First Responders: “Who we are. What we do. And why we do it.”

by MaryKate A on September 9, 2012 - 2:56pm

     Imagine anyone’s worst nightmare: a house fire, a car accident, a bank robbery, being trapped on the side of a mountain, a loved one experiencing a heart attack, the thought of any of these things is too much to bear for most people. First responders; police officers, Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics think about these things on a daily basis, not only about how to prevent them, but what to do if and when these things should occur. Many people do not understand the training, both initial and ongoing that the first responders who arrive in their greatest hour of need go through. The in depth and hands on training changes one’s mindset; one has to ‘become the job’. This is not to say that someone in any of these fields is “all work all the time”. There needs to be a balance of “work and play”.

     The structure of first responder organizations varies by region. Some agencies are combined, in places like New York City and Fairfax County, Virginia Firefighters and EMTs/ Paramedics are one in the same. In other places, the agencies are separate entities.  Fire, ALS (advanced life support), BLS (basic life support), and Police are unto themselves, but still work together for the same cause; to ensure the safety and security of the communities they serve.

     There is a growing trend of these jobs crossing over from volunteerism, to a paid profession (that’s a whole post unto itself). Some agencies have a payroll staff for set shifts and the rest of the time is covered by volunteers. Regardless of whether serving the community is your source of income, or you do so free of charge in your spare time, one thing remains constant:  you just want to help people.

There is a misconception as to “who” or “what” a first responder is. Many people envision tall, athletic looking, intimidating police officers, or sweaty, caffeine addicted, foul-mouthed firefighters, or medical gadget-bearing, radio slinging, stretcher surfing EMTs and Paramedics. Some of those stereotypes hold a small amount of truth, but in reality anyone can be a first responder, you may not even realize that someone you know very well “moonlights” as a life saver.

The purpose of my posts will be to inform you all of the impact that we have on communities both locally and globally. My goal is that by the end of this you will all gain an appreciation and understanding of what drives the people who drive the vehicles with all the lights and sirens.