Apr. 16—Pittsburgh officials swore in the city's first woman as a deputy EMS chief on Monday in a moment that newly sworn-in Amera Gilchrist said she never could have imagined when she began her work with city EMS two decades ago.
"Today a glass ceiling has been broken," Gilchrist said after she was sworn in as deputy chief by Mayor Bill Peduto. "It is my hope that the city's dedication to diversity and inclusiveness in public safety gives women and minorities the courage to know that we are supported."
Gilchrist, 45, is also the first minority individual to rise to deputy chief. Her promotion came during a short ceremony in which three others were promoted and four paramedics were sworn in for having finished their probationary period.
"I am proud because my parents did not put the word 'can't' in my DNA," she said. "I pray that my children see their limitless future that awaits them and that they, too, will believe 'can't' is not in their DNA."
Other promotions were: Mark Pinchalk to assistant chief and Richard Linn and Justin Sypolt, both to district chief positions.
The newly sworn-in paramedics were Jocelyn Hetrick, Joshua Lane, Nicholas Lawrence and David Czurko.
Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said city medics responded to more than 59,000 calls last year, 41,000 of which required transportation to emergency rooms.
"I think that's incredible for the amount of personnel that we have here in the city," Hissrich said, noting EMS employs about 201 people.
"This is the EMS leadership group now and for the future," said EMS Chief Ron Romano. "With this leadership group in place, the future is bright for Pittsburgh EMS."
Gilchrist told the new paramedics that the career path is a difficult one that comes with long hours, missed family time and great sacrifices.
"However it is a very rewarding career," she said. "To be in public safety means to not put oneself first, it means to serve others."