Dr. Michael Guttenberg remembered as 9/11 responder, dedicated physician

Dr. Michael Guttenberg remembered as 9/11 responder, dedicated physician
Dr. Michael Guttenberg Dr. Michael G. Guttenberg speaks to the media at Northwell Health’s 15th anniversary Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

Dr. Michael G. Guttenberg, an emergency services leader at Northwell Health and a Fire Department of New York first responder to the World Trade Center terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, died Tuesday.

Guttenberg, of Jericho, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at The Hospice Inn in Melville after a nearly four-and-a-half-year fight, his family said. He was 50. Despite the diagnosis, Dr. Guttenberg continued to serve as medical director of Northwell Health’s clinical preparedness and Center for Emergency Medical Services to the end.

“Dr. Guttenberg has been a leader in hospitals and emergency medical services organizations across New York State,” said Dr. John D’Angelo, executive director and senior vice president of Northwell’s Emergency Medicine Service Line. “Above all, he was a dedicated physician, a leader in the emergency medicine field and a mentor to many. I am thankful to have known Mike as a friend and a colleague. He committed his life to the service of others, setting a high bar for performance, even in the most difficult of situations.”

As an FDNY EMS fellow in 2001, Guttenberg “worked the pile” at Ground Zero in the weeks after 9/11. His death is being attributed to “World Trade Center-related illness” and an FDNY honor guard played taps at his funeral Thursday at Gutterman’s Funeral Home in Woodbury. The Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps, where Guttenberg got his start as a teenager, will transport the body for burial at Old Montefiore Cemetery in Jamaica, Queens.

“Mike spent more than 30 years delivering emergency medical services in the City of New York as an EMT, paramedic field provider and physician,” said Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. “Mike responded to the World Trade Center terror attacks on September 11, 2001 and worked ‘the pile.’ As we all know now, the site’s dust and smoke was laden with dangerous organic material and countless toxicants such as jet fuel, PCBs, dioxins and pulverized glass, drywall and cement. When he developed pancreatic cancer at age 46, despite a healthy lifestyle and no prior risk factors, Mike attributed his diagnosis to ‘Ground Zero illness’ – the health fallout experienced by many first responders and volunteers.”

Guttenberg, the fourth of five children, grew up in East Northport and graduated from Commack North High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brandeis University and earned his medical degree from New York Institute of Technology’s New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We will always remember Michael for his big heart, his big smile and his love for his family. He will be sorely missed,” said his sister, Abbie Youkilis, of Cincinnati, Ohio.

He is survived by four siblings: Abbie Youkilis (spouse John Youklilis); Ira Guttenberg (spouse Paula Joyce), of North Carolina; Fred Guttenberg (spouse Jennifer Guttenberg), of Florida; and Paul Guttenberg (spouse Ellyn Guttenberg), of Commack; Parents: Marvin and Ethel Guttenberg, of Ohio; along with eight nieces and nephews.

At Guttenberg’s request, a memorial fund has been established to benefit paramedics with aspirations to attend medical school. Please mail your donation to: Northwell Health Foundation, 2000 Marcus Ave., New Hyde Park, NY 11042. In the memo section of the check, please indicate that the gift is in memory of Michael Guttenberg.

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