Bureau of Training

1. What is your name, title and years at FDNY? Where are you currently assigned, and what are your work-related responsibilities?

My first name is Kahlia Graham. I was recently promoted to division chief on May 31 of this year (2024). I’ve been with the FDNY for 18 years, since May 11, 2006. I am currently assigned to the EMS Bureau of Training.

I assist with scheduling and coordinating the programs that we have for basic life support (BLS), the advanced life support (ALS), the refreshers, the youth alumni program—which is relatively new—and also the regular youth-focused WEMSA program. I assist Chief Tonya Boyd as she allocates funds for the budget and different things that we need to purchase at the academy, such as book orders, program supplies and all the essential items. We have numerous programs running simultaneously. I also assist with regional faculty to ensure we are compliant with the state regulations within our many programs.

2. What called you to a life of public service at FDNY?

What called me to a life of public service starts with my mom. She is a retired registered nurse; she has always been a public servant. I was able to watch her be kind and helpful. She’s worked in so many different departments—she was in the ER, she was in ICU, she worked in nursing homes, she was a visiting nurse, and I actually went to work with her on some of those days to see the things she did. So that is what called me to this profession.

I really did feel the need to help people, and I’ve had an amazing experience thus far meeting people, working with various people and helping our community.

3. Can you share one of your most memorable moments while working at FDNY?

When I was promoted to deputy chief, it stays with me as a memorable moment. I didn’t necessarily have aspirations to become a chief, but once I was given the opportunity, I was very appreciative that someone saw in me things that I didn’t see in myself and gave me an opportunity to be a leader in this capacity.

Being able to interact with so many different members within the Department on such a vast level, and just to have the opportunity to encourage others, lead them, teach them the ways that I do things, give them different ideas, take in their ideas and work together as a big team to help make the Department, has been a memorable journey.

4. What does We Are FDNY mean to you?

When I hear We Are FDNY, it makes me think of unity and all of us working together as one department. Over the years, that has been something that we’ve had to work really hard to achieve, and I think we’re getting a lot closer to our goal. Each day, we put on these uniforms and we’re a representation of the Department and of each other. I hope that as we go out and we help the community, as we meet people and we serve people, we learn different things or show people different things, and as we respond to emergencies or fires, along the way we realize that we are one collective unit, one family. People see FDNY—they don’t see deputy chief, they don’t see EMT, they don’t see paramedic; they just see FDNY.

5. What is your superpower (best quality or skill)?

My superpower is my ability to be empathetic. People always say, “Oh, you’re so nice,” and I say, “Oh, I’m not a nice person; I’m a good person.” I think the difference between a nice person and a good person is being empathetic. You can relate to people and feel what they’re feeling, so you can relate to them more deeply and have a better understanding of what they’re going through. It really helps me connect with people all the time in this job and out in the community when we go on different assignments. I’ve rarely had any negative situations here at work or in the community thanks to my empathy-powered superpower.

6. How does your role support the public safety mission of the FDNY?

My role supports the public safety mission of the FDNY by being involved in training. Training is where it all begins. We take in the people who are this blank slate, per se, and we turn them into amazing paramedics and EMTs to go out into the field to help the community and represent the mission of the Department.

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