The Philadelphia Fire Department recently welcomed 43 new EMS providers at a graduation ceremony for paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

The members of Paramedic Class 42 and EMT Class 5 completed a rigorous 12-week training program at the Philadelphia Fire Academy in order to serve in one of the busiest EMS systems in the nation.

“I started the same way as these cadets – as an EMT – because I wanted to help other people,” Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel said at the event. “Where better to practice these skills, this profession, than here, where so many of our residents and neighbors need our help?”

The cadets were already certified paramedics and EMTs when they came to the Academy. EMTs can provide basic life support protocols such as CPR and bleeding control. Paramedics can perform advanced life support techniques, including intubating patients.

At the Academy, they learned about PFD operations and received additional training in basic vehicle rescue; how to treat children who are seriously ill or injured; hazardous materials awareness and operations; and how to respond during active shooter incidents.

Thiel called the group of 7 paramedics and 36 EMTs “dedicated, motivated and compassionate,” and said they will “bolster our innovative efforts to provide the right care to the right people at the right time in the right way.”

Mayor Jim Kenney, who also attended the March 17 ceremony at the police union hall, thanked the cadets for choosing to serve the city. He noted that “Philadelphia is a particularly challenging environment for paramedics and EMTs.”

“It takes a special kind of person to become an EMS provider,” Kenney said. “You meet people on their worst days and administer critical care while offering words of comfort. You are their lifeline.”

Because it’s unusual for paramedic and EMT classes to go through the Academy together, the cadets gave their combined class the unifying name of EMS 1. Their motto: “One Unit. One Team. One Cadet.” Some cadets are alumni of the PFD’s Fire/EMS Explorers program or the Fire/EMS Academy at Randolph High School.

The PFD handles between 800 and 1,000 emergency incidents every day; about 80 percent by volume are for EMS. The PFD has operated the busiest ambulance in the nation for four years in a row, according to the annual Firehouse run survey.