Watch CBS News

Pennsylvania fire department celebrates EMS Week with faster response times, thanks to new firefighters

Upper Merion Township Fire Department celebrates faster response times, thanks to new employees
Upper Merion Township Fire Department celebrates faster response times, thanks to new employees 01:38

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (CBS) — This week marks the 50th anniversary of EMS Week, and one Pennsylvania department is celebrating faster response times, thanks to new graduates from the fire academy.

"A dream. I love my job," said Joshua DePietro, more than two weeks into his new role as a firefighter-paramedic.

He is one of 12 new professional firefighters and emergency medical technicians with the Upper Merion Township Fire Department. DePietro helps to supplement about 50 volunteer first responders who cover the community of more than 35,000 people.

"We can help them out, they help us out," he said. "And it creates better coverage for the township at whole."

Before graduation day on May 3, the department had just one shift with professional firefighters and EMTs along with on-call volunteers, Upper Merion Fire Chief James Johnson said. At the time, the response time was more than eight minutes.

"So by having that second unit, we've actually reduced those response times down into the 5-minute 20-second area," he said.

Johnson said since the newest class of firefighters joined the station, it means even faster results when the community needs them most.

"So that we can get to residents' homes quicker, so we can help our mutual aid partners in Norristown, people who are on the Schuylkill Expressway or on the Turnpike that have a motor vehicle accident," Johnson said.

The new positions were made possible by a three-year FEMA grant. That grant made firefighter-paramedic DePietro's dream of becoming a first responder possible, too.

"Truly, this is the greatest thing I've ever done in my life," DiPietro said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.