Thankful for First Responders

Not a day goes by that I don’t see first responders heading out to calls and I wonder what type of situation they will encounter when they get to where they’re going. So I pray for them. When we’ve experienced traumatic events and are rebuilding our lives, we may have placed calls to first responders for help. I don’t know about you, but I’m very thankful for first responders. They often start the rebuilding process for individuals in crisis by stabilizing situations and conditions, so we can get back to normal.

In this post, we’ll take a look at who is a first responder, why even write about them, and how to help them.

Who is a First Responder

Who exactly is a first responder? According to Wikipedia, “A first responder is a person with specialized training who is among the first to arrive and provide assistance at the scene of an emergency, such as an accident, natural disaster, or terrorist attack. First responders typically include paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers, firefighters, rescuers, and other trained members of organizations connected with this type of work.” I believe that the other trained individuals of organizations should include our military members, because they are called in to help with a variety of things like natural disasters, possible terrorist attacks, bringing order out of chaos, or some other form of help.  Additional first responders might include trained medical personnel like nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physicians, and physicians assistants who can help with medical emergencies when they occur.

two fireman returning gear to the firetruck

These awesome guys and gals who are first responders, put their lives on the line and go the extra mile to help others when called to action. But you say, this site is about rebuilding lives after traumas and losses. Right. It is. Our first responders may be the first ones who start a person’s rebuilding process because they save a life or prevent worse things from happening. Have you ever thought about that?



Why Write About First Responders

If anybody is rebuilding their lives, it’s first responders. Why? They experience traumas and losses at work throughout every workday. Think about it. Lives they hope to save, but can’t get to them in time become losses that can be emotionally devastating, not to mention the physical exertion and exhaustion that might go into rescuing others. Like any traumatic event we might have gone through, these guys and gals have to move beyond it (only faster) in order to move forward. They have to put death, dying, last words of people they tried to save, and children they are searching for, and the faces of traumas out of their minds, so they can go to sleep at bedtime.

For this reason and many others, I have great respect for the men and women who say goodbye to their families every day before their shifts start, not knowing if they will return home to them at the end of their shifts.

Amazing men and women! Gut-wrenching for the families, but a calling for those who wear the uniforms and do the work. The very nature of a first responder’s work puts them in harm’s way and on the receiving end of experiencing trauma second-hand (and sometimes first-hand) throughout their workdays. They have to be careful not to burn out because of the high stress and intensity of their work.

Military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel may face violent individuals who have addictive behaviors, are mentally ill, and who have weapons. They see the destruction to property and to individuals that accidents, medical emergencies, substance use, neglect, carelessness, and criminals cause.  First responders put their lives on the line to help individuals escape from physically dangerous situations like burning buildings, all kinds of accidents, domestic violence situations, hostage situations, break-ins, terrorist threats, and activities, and much more.

In previous posts, I’ve written about the danger of chronic stress with adrenaline shooting through the body constantly, and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Adrenaline is what kicks in so we can outrun a thug who’s chasing us trying to steal our wallet or purse. Living on high alert with adrenaline-pumping on each call that responders go to can cause the adrenal glands to become very fatigued. That’s another post entirely. Let’s just say, that it’s a lot of wear and tear on their bodies inside and outside and on their minds and emotions.

That said, I believe that our first responders need to be far better paid than the income they receive. I would like to see them earning far higher income. Think about it, what corporate executives, movie stars, or other high-paid celebrities put their lives on the line and save lives every day at work? What would those people expect to be paid if they were putting themselves in harm’s way and saving lives daily? Food for thought.  They definitely need to be paid better and have good benefits. That’s why being grateful for first responders is the very least any of us can do.

How to Help First Responders?

Now that I’ve shared a little more info about our first responders, how can we help them? Gratitude goes a long way, but what can we do to help our first responders? A major way to help is to obey the traffic laws regarding emergency vehicles. I live in a large city with mega rush hour traffic and interstate and highway gridlock situations. I am constantly amazed at how disrespectful motorists are of emergency vehicles. Motorists often fail to move so the emergency vehicles can get through because they don’t want to lose their place in traffic! Really? Little do those motorists realize that someday they or their loved ones may need fast emergency help. They would want motorists to get out of the way so those emergency vehicles could get there safely and quickly. Look at it this way, the emergency vehicles are on their way to help someone’s loved ones. Our job and our way of helping are to move out of the way as quickly and as safely as we can, so they can easily pass our vehicles and reach someone’s loved one sooner.

Another major thing we can do to help first responders is to make sure that we say thank you when we see them. Let them know how much we value them and what they do for us and for the public. Too often they are not thanked for the routine calls they receive and handle professionally every day. I just don’t think we can thank them enough! Our churches, neighborhoods, or organizations can adopt a precinct or a fire station or military personnel and pray for them. They can also do nice things for them or send them food, buy gift cards, or groceries for them, and send encouraging cards or notes.

Another thing we can do to help first responders is to find out what they need and see how we can help. They have families and loved ones and they have just as many life challenges as the rest of us have, maybe more because of the nature of their work. Let’s lend a hand wherever they might need it.

The greatest thing we can do for first responders is to pray for them. We can pray that they have wisdom and strength for every situation that they face; that they know how much God loves them; that they are not tainted by the violence and trauma they see and experience daily; and that they live long healthy lives enjoying their families.

Bag with a large bow and a thank you note


Hopefully, this post has rekindled your appreciation for our first responders. If “you” are a first responder, a really HUGE, special Thank You goes out to you! If you are the spouse or parent of a first responder who waits to hear from them at the end of their shifts, a huge, special Thank You goes to you as well. It must be quite an emotional roller coaster for you. If you know someone who is a first responder, make a point to say thank you in as many ways as possible and as often as you can. Encouraging words can make a big difference in their day.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what I’ve said in this post or about your experiences knowing someone who is a first responder. Obviously, there’s so much more that can be said and done regarding our valuable first responders. Thank you for reading!



Thank you for sharing!

10 thoughts on “Thankful for First Responders”

  1. This post definitely rekindled my appreciation for first responders! I have been in situations where first responders have been called and have always met such kind and patient people who truly want to help you. I agree the I would love to see our first responders receiving an income to rival that of a movie star or football player.

    • I’m glad this post was helpful, Veronica. Our first responders are underpaid heroes to people every day. We never want to need their help, but when the need arises we sure are glad they are there. Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts!

  2. As the wife of a retired police officer, I want to thank you for writing this post. It means a lot to know that there are people out there caring, appreciating, and praying for our first responders and their families. Thank you for encouraging others to join you.

    • You are very welcome, Theresa. Thank you so much to your husband who served in law enforcement and also to you and your family for standing strong on such a hard journey. First responders are heroes to those they serve and protect. And they are heroes at home too. 🙂 God bless you guys!

  3. Thank you for this lovely post, we often take such angels for granted. It is their passion to go out there and help out, and definitely they are not being paid enough for the sacrifice they put themselves into. Especially those who have the pressure of thinking about their families, the wives, husbands, and kids they leave behind daily not knowing if they will return home, this is so tough, and they are very courageous to be able to be on the line most of the time. Thank you definitely goes a long way.. Thank you for dedicating this post to our heroes…

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and kind words, Sahar. It would be nice to see these heroes get the pay they deserve. They are very courageous knowing that at any instant one wrong turn of events could mean losing their lives. How difficult it is for the families and spouses of these heroes. Trusting God is the only way I know of to have peace of mind in these situations. 🙂

  4. Wow! Amazing Article Colleen. I just bookmarked your site. Thank you for gratitude and for appreciating first responders. I really appreciate. Not a lot people appreciate first responders so it nice to see that you do. Keep up the good work. Have a great day!



    • I appreciate your kind words, Pam. Too often those handling day to day patient crises are unnoticed, unappreciated, and underpaid. Being a nurse, you can relate to that. Fortunately, there are still some of us who truly value what our first responders do. Thank you for what you do!


  5. I have a lot of respect for first responders. I sometimes work with them helping to transport people going to their doctor appointments or taking veterans to a regional VA hospital. When it comes to the rebuilding of a life after a traumatic experience, that rebuilding process starts when the first responder gets to the victim.

    I definitely understand that the first responder, doctor, nurse, emergency worker, and even military personnel need our help to help them in the rebuilding of their emotional and physical stresses. I have good friends in the military and medical profession. I see what it does to them.

    We should all thank God for people like these. It is not easy to try and save lives, doing all you can, then experiencing loss, and having to move on with a clear enough mind to try and save another person. You cannot gain respect until you earn it and all types of first responders deserve ours.

    • Thank you for your insightful comment, Robert! You speak from experience having worked alongside first responders transporting patients. Like you, I have seen the impact that the stresses and traumas take on the lives of first responders and their families. Our first responders def deserve our respect and gratitude. Thank you for what you do working alongside first responders and for helping veterans get to their appointments! That’s huge! 🙂



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