May 19 through May 25 was the 50th anniversary of National EMS Week. It was founded in 1974 by  President Gerald Ford to recognize the contributions of EMS providers across the country.  This year’s theme was “Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future.” We shared this poster on social media accounts to showcase the evolution of ambulances over the years. The Philadelphia Fire Department has come a long way when it comes to emergency medical response! Here’s a look at this year’s EMS Week 2024 in the PFD.




During EMS Week, we announced this year’s EMS Provider of the Year – Paramedic Sofia Oakes. Sofia is one of only four paramedics in the PFD who is specially trained in tactical rescues. This skill helped Sofia provide care to a person stuck in an elevator in Center City.

Sofia and two Rescue 1 firefighters were harnessed and placed on top of an adjacent functioning elevator, then lowered from the 42nd floor to the stuck elevator around the 9th floor. Sofia was able to remove a side panel from the working elevator, then remove the side panel from the stuck one, climb inside to render aid to the patient, and then secure the patient to transfer them to the working elevator.

This is believed to be the first time in PFD history that a paramedic was part of a tactical rescue in this capacity. Sofia will receive her award during a ceremony in October.



Members of South Korea’s Fire and Emergency Services came to the PFD on May 22. The group visited Fire Headquarters and the Philadelphia Fire Academy. We also exchanged gifts, which is customary when fire/EMS agencies from around the world stop in to visit. During their tour, they learned about our equipment and protocols, and the way our paramedics and EMTs respond to incidents. We’re glad to have international friendships with agencies that can help us learn and grow as well.



On May 24, PFD members set up in Love Park for a “Meet a Medic” event where people could learn basic first aid skills like CPR, pick up some swag, and learn about how to join the PFD. As part of that event, EMS Deputy Commissioner Martin McCall read part of a proclamation from Mayor Cherelle L. Parker declaring it EMS Week in Philadelphia.

Although EMS Week is set aside to thank our providers and bring attention to their efforts, we recognize the work they put in year-round to continue learning and to provide the best care possible. During EMS Week, our medics responded to more than 5,900 calls. In 2023 – they responded to more than 268,000 incidents. Those numbers are big, but we’re grateful the abilities of our emergency medical responders are even bigger. You can see a photo album from 2024 EMS Week on our Facebook page.

You can fill out an interest form on our jobs page to be notified when we're hiring Paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, and Dispatchers. You can also learn about our program for young aspiring PFD members - The Fire Explorers.