FDNY welcomes newest class of 148 emergency medical technicians

The FDNY welcomed its newest class of emergency medical technicians during a graduation ceremony on Tuesday at the Christian Cultural Center.
Among them was 25-year-old Andrew Sheppard, who said joining the FDNY was personal.
"Joining the fire department has been a life goal of mine," Sheppard said.
He is following in the footsteps of his grandfather -- Battalion Chief Dennis Cross. Cross was killed on Sept. 11, 2001 when responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center.
"It means everything to me, trying to set the right example like he did," Sheppard said. "Taking care of the guys below me, next to me, and anybody that I would be in charge of in the future."
Joining the fire department was also personal for Victoria Ortiz, this class valedictorian. She joined the FDNY in memory of her grandmother, Mafalda Iacovino. Ortiz said she died from COVID-19 during the pandemic. 
"I'm just relieved, happy to be here and ready to serve," Ortiz said. "It was a promise to the rest of my family, a promise to never be underprepared in that kind of situation again."
Ortiz and Sheppard are part of the 148 EMTs who graduated and walked across the stage on Tuesday. They have already received their assignments and have been working in the field.
"These members have picked up the baton and will flourish into the department's future leaders," said Michael Fields, Chief of FDNY EMS Operations.
The next class will graduate in January 2024.