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FIRST Hires Former Philadelphia Fire Department EMS Commissioner to Lead DEI Effort



Crystal Yates-Gale, MBA


The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) at Drexel University is proud to announce the recent appointment of Crystal Yates-Gale, MBA, as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Project Manager. She will lead a newly-awarded $1.5 million FEMA grant in partnership with the Metropolitan "Metro" Fire Chiefs Association and national fire service affinity groups.

Ms. Yates-Gale is a 22-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD). She began her career as a paramedic and served as the department's first female African American deputy EMS commissioner. She recently retired from PFD as the deputy commissioner of finance and administration and begins a new venture as the FIRST Center's DEI Project Manager.

Ms. Yates-Gale is a long-time partner of the FIRST Center. During her time at PFD, she educated the Firefighter Injury Research, Epidemiology, and Evaluation (FIRE) Fellows about her role, including how her identity as a Black female firefighter impacted her personal and professional life. She was deeply engaged with the FIRST Center's Stress and Violence to fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER) portfolio, including the development of the Systems-Level Checklist and the SAVER Model Policies. During the pandemic, she facilitated PFD's involvement in the COVID-19 RAPID Mental Health Assessment

As the DEI Project Manager, Ms. Yates-Gale will oversee the creation and implementation of the DEI FIRE Toolkit, which will provide education, assessment, and training developed from best practices to advance DEI initiatives in the fire and rescue service.

Ms. Yates-Gale was selected for this role not only for her fire service experience, but also for her commitment to advancing DEI goals in the industry. She showcased her ability to manage the space between her personal beliefs and those of an evolving workforce during her MBA training as a Pozen-Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Health Equity Leadership at Yale University.

With Ms. Yates-Gale leading this initiative, the FIRST Center will foster collaboration, learning, and compassion to move the need on fire service DEI goals.

Ms. Yates-Gale received her Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies from the West Chester University of Pennsylvania and her Master of Business Administration from the Yale School of Management.

The FIRST Center is a research, education, and practice enterprise organized to support the United States fire and rescue service through objective data collection, analysis, and service.

For more information, please contact Victoria Gallogly, Outreach & Communication Coordinator (