The Philadelphia Fire Department welcomed 75 new first responders in a joint graduation for paramedics and firefighter/EMTs that was attended by hundreds of supporters. 

The members of Firefighter/EMT Class 199 and Paramedic Class 40 completed rigorous training at the Fire Academy in order to join one of the busiest departments in the nation. The PFD handles between 800-1,000 incidents every day; about 80 percent by volume are for emergency medical services (EMS).  

“Every single cadet you see here is an EMS provider, whether an EMT or a paramedic, and that’s critically important to take care of our residents, businesses and visitors 24x7x365,” Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel said at the July 12 ceremony at Northeast High School. 

During their nine months at the Academy, firefighter cadets learn about fire suppression, hazardous materials, and other related topics. They also become certified as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), qualifying them to provide basic EMS care. Five of the 66 cadets in Class 199 are alumni of the PFD’s Fire/EMS Explorers program. 

Class spokesman Jermaine Lloyd (above) gave remarks in English and Spanish at the ceremony. He talked about the privilege — and responsibilities — of wearing the PFD’s patch. 

“We have to continue learning, we have to continue training each and every day,” Lloyd said. “We owe it to our families, we owe it to our brothers and sisters in the fire service, and most importantly we owe it to the citizens of the City of Philadelphia, who today we swore to protect.” 

The nine members of Fire Service Paramedic Class 40 were already certified paramedics when they came to the Academy. Their 12-week program included lessons in basic vehicle rescue; hazardous materials awareness and operations; how to treat children who are seriously ill or injured; and how to respond to active shooters.  

Class 40 spokeswoman Zelided De La Cruz Santos (above) told her classmates that graduation is not an ending, but the beginning of an exciting career. She also spoke of the PFD’s motto: “Dedication and Service.” 

“It is most important that we carry those words in our hearts and our minds,” said De La Cruz Santos, “even when days become rough and nights become long.”

This is the first graduation that cadets’ families have been able to attend since November 2019. The last two firefighter classes (January 2021 and July 2020) and last paramedic class (October 2020) graduated during heavy COVID restrictions; loved ones watched those ceremonies on livestreams.