An EMS captain with 21 years on the job will become the first African-American woman in the FDNY to achieve the rank of deputy chief on Thursday.
Capt. Tonya Boyd, who joined the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services while in college as a way to make money, said she never dreamed her career would reach such heights.
“I’m so excited and I am so blessed,” the EMS officer told the Daily News.
“After hearing about the promotion, I couldn’t believe it. I feel like I’ve knocked down a door and opened it for a lot of EMTs just starting on this job,” said Boyd.
“African-American women will see someone who looks like them as a deputy chief and they will know more is possible — their careers won’t top out at paramedic or even lieutenant,” said the captain of Station 39 in Brooklyn.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Boyd’s success was due to her efforts.
“Tonya is not only helping to raise the bar for our ability to provide pre-hospital care, she’s also demonstrating to young women of all backgrounds the incredible rewarding career they can achieve in the FDNY,” Nigro said.
As a young woman growing up in Brooklyn, Boyd, who described herself as “fortysomething,” planned to follow her grandmother into nursing.
But a need for cash while in nursing school sent her looking for work — and a cousin suggested she get an EMT license.
Thanks to classes offered at Brooklyn College, Boyd passed the state exam. On Jan. 27, 1997, she became an official employee of the FDNY.
It was just after then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani merged the city’s cash-strapped 911 EMS system with the Fire Department — a joining that not everyone in the FDNY embraced.
“We were very merger-oriented,” Boyd recalled. “We got through it.”
She quickly set her sights on the next challenge — becoming a paramedic.
“The FDNY offered a wonderful program that let us go to school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Boyd said. “I became a paramedic after about seven years.”
Boyd didn’t stop there, moving on to lieutenant and then captain.
But the path from rank-and-file to officer isn’t as clear-cut in EMS as it is on the FDNY’s firefighting side.
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