While a student at Northeast High School, Daniel McCarty figured his experience in a debate class might lead to a career as a corporate lawyer.
Also a football and volleyball player, he was on his way to a college visit at Rutgers late in his senior year when he was involved in a serious car accident. He was driving on a rainy day on the New Jersey Turnpike when another vehicle began to drift into his lane. He tried to avoid the vehicle, but his car hydroplaned and hit a tree.
Emergency responders had to cut him out of his car and take him to JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey with leg injuries.
McCarty recalls receiving so much good care that he was back on the volleyball court a week later.
“That sparked a whole different interest,” he said of his career plans. “I never looked back.”
After graduating from Northeast in June 2010, he enrolled at the old Star Career Academy, near Welsh Road and Roosevelt Boulevard. Several months later, he graduated from Star’s paramedic program.
“I’ve been an EMS provider in the state of Pennsylvania ever since,” he said.
McCarty joined the Philadelphia Fire Department in 2014 as a fire service emergency medical technician, moved on to become a fire service paramedic and a fire paramedic lieutenant and, last Thursday, was promoted to fire paramedic captain.
All of that by age 30.
“It’s been a very humbling experience,” he said. “I love my job. I come to work and get to make a difference.”
McCarty, who turned 31 on Sunday, grew up in Frankford and the old Liddonfield Homes in Holmesburg. Before Northeast, he attended Sullivan Elementary School and Harding Middle School.
Today, he and his wife Mo live in Northern Liberties and have four children, a girl and three boys. He is also guardian to his brother, Alfred, 26, who has autism.
On the job, he has worked at a half-dozen locations, including Ladder 16, at Belgrade and Huntingdon in Port Richmond.
McCarty has recently been serving as an acting captain in the department’s planning unit, based at fire headquarters at 240 Spring Garden St., focused on major events such as Welcome America.
Immediately prior to that, he worked in recruiting. Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said McCarty has been “instrumental” in recruiting paramedics and EMTs, with the most recent graduating class numbering 43, with more than one-third knowing multiple languages.
“Dan’s been a big part of that, no question,” Thiel said. “He’s a rock star. I’m happy to see him promoted.”
Besides that 2010 accident, McCarty has experienced his late dad and grandfather needing emergency care, and will take all that he has learned into what he hopes is a very long career with the fire department.
“I have been on the other side of that 911 call. I have that sense of empathy,” he said. “I was born and raised here and get to interact with everyday people in the city of Philadelphia. It’s super rewarding.” ••