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.
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.
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!