man wearing suit smiling in front of fire truck

County Executive George Latimer is pleased to announce he will be appointing former County Legislator and current Acting County Emergency Services Commissioner Richard Wishnie as the Department’s permanent commissioner – removing the ‘acting’ title after over a year of exceptional service in that role. Wishnie had held the acting post since November 2020 when Latimer named him and Susan Spear to lead the County’s emergency services response.

Latimer said: “Richard is a true Westchester public servant. He has dedicated his life to serving the people of this County, and in this past year, has shown how far his service is willing to go. As the County worked to combat and mitigate COVID-19, Richard worked closely with the team at DES to ensure all municipalities had supplies, answers and support from our Administration.”

Wishnie was elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators for six terms beginning in 1993.  He retired in December of 2005. Wishnie has an extensive record of public service in Westchester County. Prior to becoming a County Legislator, he served the Town of Ossining as Councilman from 1976-1979 and as Supervisor from 1979-1983. He has served as Chairman of the Ossining Open Door Health Centers, Westchester Health Source, the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and the Ossining Red Cross Disaster Team.

Wishnie said: “Working in the Latimer Administration with Deputy Director Susan Spear and the dedicated team at DES has been my utmost privilege. I am thrilled to continue this role on a permanent basis so we can serve the people of Westchester.”

Wishnie presently volunteers as a Director with several health care and business organizations.  He is a member Board of Directors of the Westchester Medical Center, Chairman of the Bon Secours Charity Health System Board of Directors, Vice Chair and Treasurer of the Health Alliance Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Directors of the Westchester County Association, Vice Chair of the Mid- Hudson Ambulance District and Chair of the Westchester County Police Board.

Wishnie has also served as an Officer and Director of the Ossining Chamber of Commerce, President of the Ossining Jaycees, Director of the United Way of Northern Westchester, a member of the Briarcliff Manor Volunteer Fire Department, and a Town of Ossining Auxiliary Police Officer. He is the former Director of Operations of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board (1983-88), and served by appointment of the Governor to a Temporary State Study Commission on Workers Compensation Special Funds.

The Department of Emergency Services consists of four divisions: Fire Services, Communications (60 Control), Emergency Management (OEM) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The Fire Services division is comprised of four units: fire training, fire inspection, special operations and fire prevention and protection. The division administers, coordinates and maintains the fire training program that is available to Westchester County’s 58 fire departments.

The Emergency Communications Center commonly referred to as "60 Control" provides primary dispatch services for 52 fire departments and 32 EMS agencies in Westchester. The center is staffed 24 hours, seven days a week to handle fire and EMS mutual-aid requests going in and out of the county.

The OEM works with local, state and federal government to prepare Westchester for disasters. During a major emergency, OEM may activate the county's Emergency Operations Center, a state-of-the-art facility where the county, local municipalities, hospitals, utilities work together to keep the County safe.

The EMS division collaborates with local, regional and state agencies to enhance the effectiveness of the county’s Emergency Medical Services system, by providing emergency preparedness training, mutual aid coordination and incident management assistance during large scale events.

The Department of Emergency Services plays a critical role in keeping Westchester safe.

Wishnie’s appointment must be confirmed by the Board of Legislators.