When you think of someone serving on the “front lines,” your mind probably drifts to military soldiers decked in camouflage. But this battle against a worldwide pandemic has brought new soldiers to the front lines: first responders.
Police officers. Fireman. Paramedics. Emergency Room personnel. Rescue teams.
Law enforcement and first responders are the ones who bravely step up to the brink of COVID-19.
How first responders are exposed to the pandemic
These public servants are essential to our community during this strange season. While many people can’t go to work, we need them to show up at their job. While most citizens have to stay home, they are required to go out. While the sick have to isolate, they must enter their homes, deliver them to the hospital, and help fight this deadly virus.
And that’s a risky career.
They treat and transport the ill. They are in enclosed spaces with infected individuals. They interact with patients. They make rapid medical decisions and interventions.
They put their health at risk to save the lives of others. And for that, our community is extremely grateful.
And when first responders are exposed to the virus, so is their family.
The toll coronavirus takes on first responders and their families
Consider the reality of life for one of our first responders during this pandemic.
- They still work full-time—maybe even overtime.
- They are exposed to high-risk individuals, including those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The research changes daily, so they are constantly learning to stay up-to-date.
- They go home at the end of the day knowing that there is always a chance that they are putting their family at risk.
In the popular series The Hunger Games, twenty four individuals are put into an arena to fight until only one victor remains. During the games, a cannon chimes immediately after a tribute dies in the arena.
Our law enforcement agents and first responders are fighting in an arena—not for the outcome of one champion, but for all participants to victoriously survive. We don’t have a bell to ring each time we lose one of our valuable public servants, but they deserve our recognition nonetheless.
If you are killed or disabled in your line-of-duty as a first responder, you and your family may be entitled to benefits. Senator Hassan said, “If law enforcement officers or first responders contract COVID-19 and are killed or permanently disabled by it, it should be treated as a line of duty incident so that they and their families receive the full benefits that they deserve.”
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 within 45 days of working, it will be considered as a “line of duty incident.” The Senate has already passed the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act, but it has not yet been passed by the House (as of May 19, 2020).
How can we help our first responders right now?
The Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act is a wonderful provision, but how can we help our first responders right now?
Deliver food. Are you one of those people who has become a gourmet chef since quarantine began? Use those skills to serve your local firefighters, police officers, or medical professionals. Cook or bake something yummy, package it up in to-go containers, and drop it off for the first responders to enjoy (either in their office or at their personal home)!
(Don’t like cooking? No problem. Call and ask what they like to eat and have take-out delivered instead.)
Sew masks. The CDC recommends that everyone wear face masks in places where it is difficult to social distance—which includes fire stations, police headquarters, and hospitals. Grab a needle and thread to make handmade face masks for the first responders.
Don’t know how to make a mask? Here’s a tutorial video from the U.S. Surgeon General using a piece of cloth and two rubber bands. Tips: use a bandana, place a coffee filter inside the folded fabric, use two elastic hair ties, and sew it all together before donating.
Donate blood. The U.S Surgeon General is a popular guy lately. He also said, “You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.” Make an appointment with the American Red Cross to donate blood, platelets, or plasma.
Watch their kids. Changing schedules and long shifts made it tough to find reliable childcare. And if a first responder doesn’t have childcare, they can’t go to work. Volunteer to watch their young children, or check on their older kids.
Pet sitting. If you’re an animal lover, this is a great way to help! Watch their pets full-time during this season, or go by throughout the day to feed and play with their animals. Psst: sending adorable photos of their pets in the middle of their shift may brighten a first responder’s day!
Donate to the cause:
- First Responders Children’s Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund provides emergency financial assistance to first responders and their families, including food, mortgage payments, and childcare.
- Project c.u.r.e. provides N95 masks, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s), gloves and other medical supplies to professionals.
- The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund uses your financial contributions to educate, support, counsel, teach, and help the first responder families directly impacted by the pandemic.
Be aware. Be a good family member, neighbor, or friend by being aware of your first responders and their families. Maintaining relationships is a fantastic way to keep spirits up! Send text messages, interact on social media, talk in the driveway, or pick up the phone and call them.
If you notice depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, drug/alcohol abuse, inability to take care of self (like bathing and eating), psychiatric symptoms (such as delusional thoughts or hearing voices), or other signs of distress, contact a local facility for help.
We’re aware, and we are here to help.
Are you a first responder? Is someone in your immediate family serving on the front lines of this pandemic? Do you know someone who is?
We see you, and we want to help.
- If you need someone to talk to, give us a call.
- If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, we can help.
- If you are feeling burnout or secondary traumatic stress, we can provide coping strategies.
- If you are overwhelmed by what you see at work, we can help you process.
You do so much for our community. Now it’s our turn to say thank you. Contact us today.
Teen Social Anxiety