Aug. 5—WILKES-BARRE — Soon after Ryan Panzetta took the oath to be a paramedic for the city, someone's radio toned out a call for a dispatch to South Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the ceremony Thursday morning at City Hall.
"Ryan, can you take that?" asked someone in the audience.
"Be right there," Panzetta replied.
With his advanced life support certification and emergency medical services training, Panzetta could have answered the call. But he and the other new hire, Brandon Grohowski, weren't on the job yet. They start their official training today with the Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department.
The new additions bring the staff up to eight full-time paramedics, said Fire Chief Jay Delaney. Likewise, the addition of new firefighters/emergency medical technicians, Corey Donovan and Ryan Livingston raised the department's total to 67.
Donovan and Livingston will be paid $50,496 a year plus benefits. Grohowski and Panzetta start at $64,588 a year plus benefits.
Delaney thanked Mayor George Brown, who administered the oaths, for filling in vacancies.
"We have a mayor now that continually keeps our staffing levels where they need to be. As soon as there's an opening, he quickly fills it," Delaney said.
Brown had his reasons. His family's home caught on fire years ago and another time he was taken to the hospital by a city ambulance.
"I know what EMS and the fire department does," Brown said and reiterated his praise for them as the best in the state.
Four generations of firefighters
The fire department dates back to 1807. The fire department-based EMS started much later in 1975 and by then Jack Livingston already had begun his lengthy career as a firefighter.
Livingston, who retired as a captain, served 39 years on the fire department and was a second generation firefighter.
"My father was a line chief. He died in '69," Livingston said of his late father John. "I got on in '70."
Livingston's grandson Ryan continued the tradition as a fourth-generation firefighter, joining his uncle Robert in the department.
Ryan Livingston and Donovan will attend the Fire Academy at Harrisburg Area Community College starting Aug. 15 with an expected graduation date of Nov. 18 of this year.
Livingston and Grohowski graduated from the former Meyers High School in Wilkes-Barre.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.