January 25, 2018
On Thursday, January 25, 2018, 145 FDNY Probationary EMTs graduated at Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.
For Probationary EMT Joseph Bitetto, the graduation was more than a celebration of his rigorous training with the FDNY, it was a reunion.
In 1996, Probationary EMT Bitetto’s mother was experiencing a complicated birth with Joseph at home in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Nick Bitetto, Joseph’s father called 911 and two FDNY EMTs arrived to save Joseph – a premature newborn and his mother.
22 years later, the Bitetto’s reunited with the EMT that saved him and his mother – Howard Blanck, now an NYPD Detective.
In advance of Probationary EMT Bitetto’s graduation, Mr. Bitetto sent a heartfelt letter to FDNY recounting the survival story of his wife and son thanks to two FDNY EMTs. He wrote, “today [Joseph] will officially follow in the footsteps of those who saved his life at birth - it is funny how life goes a full circle.”
“My instructors in the academy told me one day that they had a letter from my Dad, I originally thought he was going to embarrass me, but when I read it, it brought tears to my eyes,” said Probationary EMT Bitetto.
“I was able to thank everyone who helped our family that day except the FDNY EMTs, so I thought this was my chance, my son was in the academy, becoming an EMT, following the footsteps of the people who saved his life, and I just had to write the letter and tell the story,” said Mr. Bitetto. “When I found out that my son delivered a baby during his rotations I couldn’t help but think that he was paying it forward, now he is administering the aide instead of receiving it as a newborn - I am extremely proud of him.”
“That day was unbelievable, I remember it; it was happy, desperate, and frightening. I didn’t know if my baby or I were going to survive,” said Mrs. Bitetto “I am very thankful to the FDNY EMT that helped me that day, because without him, I wouldn’t have my son.”
“I delivered a lot of babies while I was working for the FDNY, but I would have never expected 22 years later to meet one of them,” said Detective Blanck. “It’s good to see he is going to be working for the city now, it’s a great job and he will enjoy it.”
During Probationary EMT Bitetto’s required street rotation for training, he responded to a woman in labor, just as Detective Blanck responded in 1996 for the birth of EMT Bitetto.
Their FDNY training kicked in immediately and it was their first baby delivery as EMTs.
“This was my first delivery, it was so beautiful and I was so full of emotions - we had the child birth lecture in the Academy three weeks prior to the call, and when I was in the moment, I was thinking about everything I was taught and everything I needed to do,” said Probationary EMT Bitetto. “I saw firsthand that the training we receive in the Academy truly impacts the EMTs out in the field. Ever since I was little, my mom used to say that I was made to help people, I’m glad I could make her proud.”
First Deputy Commissioner Laura Kavanagh underscored the demanding training of the graduates and their unwavering commitment.
“So often, the word “family” is used to describe this Department because as you have all learned these last months of training, this is not simply a job,” said First Deputy Commissioner Kavanagh. “We know when that call for help comes in, you will be there for your patients - you will demonstrate why FDNY is known as the best emergency medical service in the world.”
Also a member of the graduating class is Probationary EMT John Martin, who is following the career path of his father, Lieutenant Peter C. Martin of Rescue 2, who made the Supreme Sacrifice on September 11th, 2001.
“My father would be proud of me - the FDNY was his family and he would love that I am here and am following in his footsteps,” said Probationary EMT Martin. “He made the Supreme Sacrifice along with 342 other members of the Department and I carry that with me every day I put this uniform on with pride and I am proud to be a part of his second family.”
Chief of Department James E. Leonard highlighted the incredible work of EMTs in driving the mission of the Department.
“Our members honor their oaths and work as hard as possible to protect our city, responding to every single call for help – no matter the dangers and no matter the cost,” said Chief Leonard. “Several of you have already made real impacts out on your rotations – making a difference in the lives of others.
Two Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and ten graduates of FDNY’s Youth Workforce Development Programs were also members of the graduating class.
The Probationary EMTs will be stationed throughout the city.
For photos of the graduation ceremony, click here.