This has been a pretty tough year for our country’s first responders. Tornadoes ripping through several Oklahoma schools, a massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, the Boston Marathon bombing, an explosion in a Texas fertilizer plant, and the Arizona Yarnell Hill wildfire first responders have certainly been in the headlines. Additionally¸ there were thousands of other instances where first responders responded, witnessed, and assisted in tragedies, heartbreaks, helplessness and disbelief that went unrecognized. All of these heroes had performed miracles, supported others, and had given a part of themselves, sometimes their lives, to save others.
The first proposal to establish a National First Responder Appreciation Day was made in 2006. This movement was recently renewed by Andrew Collier, the brother of a slain law enforcement officer. Sean Collier was killed searching for the suspects of The Boston Marathon Bombing in April, 2013. Andrew is currently working through the political process that would allow for national recognition and celebration of what first responders do for others every day. Whether an officer has stopped to assist a stranded motorist, talked a suicidal patient off of a bridge or rushed into a burning building with the fire department to search for trapped victims s(he) would be acknowledged on a special date every year. This Remembrance Day would be similar in nature as honoring all those who have served in the military on Veterans Day.
On September 27, 2006, 53-year-old Duane Roger Morrison walked into Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, CO, took six female students hostage and sexually assaulted them. He let four of the girls go before police stormed the classroom he was in. Using the remaining two girls as shields, Morrison shot at police, then shot and killed one of the girls, 16-year-old junior Emily Keyes, before taking his own life. Colorado was the first state to proclaim a First Responder Appreciation Day and it is celebrated on September 27. Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois and Cayuga Falls, Ohio also celebrate First Responder Appreciation Days.
On April 18, 2013 Sean Collier was shot and killed in his vehicle. He was 26 years old. He had 5 siblings. One of them, his brother Andrew Collier has a dream and a goal; he is asking for your help in renewing the effort to develop, pass and initiate a National First Responders Day. He has been working on this proposal with the President, the Senate, and Congress. His dream includes all first responders, including you.
Andrew Collier’s hope is that after reading this article, you will go online and sign the petition for establishing a National First Responders Day. That is my hope too. It is also the hope of my editor Frank Borelli. In fact, I don’t think I have ever met a first responder who would argue against this needed recognition.
What is the Definition of a First Responder?
A person, such as a police officer, firefighter, or EMT, trained in urgent medical care and other emergency procedures that is prepared to move immediately to the scene of an accident or disaster to provide assistance. First responders include members from many agencies: police, firemen, paramedics/EMTs, dispatchers, disaster agencies and even volunteers. On my first day in a patrol car my partner, Ken, explained what first responders do quite simply: “Pam, they’re the people you see running in when everyone else is running out”. First responders are people who show up in the face of danger and natural disaster because they are committed to serving others.
It is a disaster, you’ve been notified, and you are en route, your mind is going through hundreds of scenarios as you scan channels to see if there are any other updates. When you get on scene your instincts kick in. Tunnel vision threatens you. Triage is of utmost importance. All your training comes flooding back to you. There are only three things you can rely on: your partner, your team, and yourself. You make a plan. You take action. That is what a first responder does.