Special to the Gazette
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu along with Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Dr. Bisola Ojikutu and Boston Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Chief James Hooley on Friday celebrated the graduation of 11 Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Recruits and one promotion. Also included in the graduates is a resident of South End. The EMTs will be assigned to 911 ambulances and dispatch operations, strengthening the City of Boston’s Emergency Medical Services.
In the keynote address during the ceremony, Mayor Michelle Wu recognized the newest EMTs and promotees, as well as the department as a whole, for their commitment to our communities. She spoke of their ability to act with compassion and precision, urgency and composure; to treat injury and illness, and provide comfort and reassurance.
“Our Emergency Medical Technicians provide lifesaving care and compassion to every patient they serve at a moment’s notice, embodying the spirit of giving back to our community,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The entire City of Boston is so grateful to our newest recruit graduates for joining the team and congratulations to our promoted member.”
The 11 EMT-Recruit graduates started the Academy in November 2022 and throughout the last 6 months have spent time in the classroom enhancing their clinical expertise, honing practical skills, and training in ambulances responding to more than 1,500 real medical emergencies, treating and transporting over 1,200 patients. Many of the graduates were drawn to Boston EMS through their desire to help people, give back to their community and because of the department’s reputation as one of the best emergency medical services in the Country.
The Boston EMS Recruit Academy is a full-time paid training program for state certified EMTs, ensuring residents receive the highest quality pre-hospital care, before they are badged as department EMTs. Boston EMS recently started a subsequent Academy class in February, which is in training and expected to graduate in August. Those interested in a rewarding career at Boston EMS are encouraged to go to www.boston.gov/ems to learn more and sign up for training and employment opportunities. Starting pay for newly hired EMTs is $30 an hour.
During Friday’s ceremony, Lieutenant Jonathan Welch was recognized for his promotion that took place in February 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lieutenant Welch, a 14-year veteran of the department, promoted from the rank of EMT to Lieutenant, is dual trained to work in field and dispatch operations as a supervisor. As a Supervisor, Jonathan serves as a role model, mentor, and an advocate for both peers and patients.
Boston EMS has long seen a benefit in combining graduation and promotional ceremonies, allowing the newest members to stand beside those with 5, 10 and 20 plus years of experience, as equally vital members of the department.
“We have invested in preparing you for whatever may come next, but please, don’t stop learning, don’t stop challenging yourselves. We don’t know what we will be faced with next,” advised Chief Hooley. “We also know that meeting the needs of our community means adapting to those needs. We as a department have never feared change.”
To better serve the evolving needs of residents, Boston EMS continues to expand services, including screening of 9-1-1 behavioral health emergencies for call transfer directly to a licensed mental health clinician. This service, referred to as ‘TeleBEST’, has been offered since late October of 2022, with over 50 patients effectively transferred. As of April 11th, 2023, TeleBEST became available 24/7. In June, Boston EMS anticipates activation of an Alternative Response Model, a unit jointly staffed with an EMT and behavioral health clinician, designed to provide on scene support at low acuity behavioral health incidents. Boston EMS is the first emergency medical service in the state to be approved for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Office of EMS, Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH) Emergency Department Avoidance program.
“On behalf of the Boston Public Health Commission, I am pleased to welcome the class of 2022-2 to Boston EMS and look forward to working with them,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “Boston EMS’ work is central to our health care and public health systems and advances health equity across our city.”
Boston EMS is one of the busiest municipal EMS providers in New England, responding to more than 134,000 emergency medical incidents per year. As a bureau of the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), Boston EMS is committed to serving Boston’s residents through clinical excellence, emergency planning and preparedness, and community outreach.
Boston EMS is the primary provider of emergency medical services for the City of Boston and is a nationally recognized leader in the field of pre-hospital emergency medicine. The department leverages the latest advances in both medicine and technology to bring high-quality, compassionate care to the people of Boston. Boston EMS also plays a key role in the City’s emergency preparedness efforts and provides community programming designed to educate the public about important health and safety topics.
The Boston Public Health Commission, one of the country’s oldest health departments, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston. Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of our mission – to protect, preserve and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Commission’s more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Emergency Medical Services; Child Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; and Recovery Services.
If you or someone in your family is experiencing a behavioral health crisis and does not require emergency medical services, please call the toll-free 24/7 BEST Call Center directly at 1-800-981-HELP (4357) to speak with a clinician. This number can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week to obtain services. The Call Center is staffed by behavioral health clinicians who will triage calls, provide support, and make appropriate referrals via phone, in-person evaluations, mobile clinicians, or Telehealth. Callers will always speak to a live clinician