The Philadelphia Fire Department welcomed 10 new paramedics on Tuesday, the first paramedic class to graduate from the Fire Academy since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know the pandemic has created an incredibly challenging environment for EMS providers,” Mayor Jim Kenney said during the ceremony. “But the instructors here have prepared you for the many scenarios you will face as a first responder.”

Members of Paramedic Class 39 are joining one of the nation’s busiest fire/EMS systems, which handles 800-1,000 emergency incidents every day. In 2019, Philadelphia also had the busiest ambulance in the U.S. for the second consecutive year, according to the Firehouse annual run survey.

The graduates were already certified paramedics when they applied to join the Fire Department. As PFD cadets, they participated in a nine-week program that featured daily physical workouts in addition to classroom learning and field exercises.

Training included basic vehicle rescue; hazardous materials awareness and operations; how to treat children who are seriously ill or injured; and how to respond during active shooter incidents.

But the job is about more than clinical skills, said Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel.

“Compassionate care – that is what we do, first and foremost, for anybody who needs it, anywhere in this great City, at any time,” Thiel said. “No questions asked.”

Class spokesman Kevin Daly thanked the teachers at the Academy and urged his fellow paramedics to “continue to be students of our profession.”

“I’m honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you,” Daly told his classmates, “and I look forward to working with you on the streets.”

The ceremony was closed to spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions. Family, friends and colleagues of Class 39 were able to watch a livestream.