Being a first responder is a noble task. Lives are often quite literally on the line, and mere seconds can influence whether people will survive or not. This is why first responders deserve all the support and help they can get, regardless of which sector of society it comes from. Here are some ways local governments extend assistance and support.
Pertinent information and resources
The United States Department of Homeland Security Office of Infrastructure Protection, National Protection and Preparedness Directorate along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) came up with the Ready Responder toolkit, which is a resource for developed for first responders of all stripes—doctors, nurses, medics, firefighters, police officers, and others. The toolkit is filled with the following information:
- Results of assessments and studies done on first responders in various jurisdictions and disciplines, and why they would benefit from the toolkit
- How first responders can be prepared for all types of emergencies, from disasters to accidents
- What every first responder needs in their supply bag
- Plans and strategies every first responder should know to ensure not just their own safety, but those of the people they’re trying to rescue
- How various agencies and departments can design their own emergency preparedness plans
- Financial tips are also provided, especially since disasters don’t choose what to destroy
- Policy issues and organizational preparedness
- Shelter assessment
- Public messaging considerations
And these are just some topics covered by the toolkit. It’s a helpful guide that agencies can look into whenever they need information on certain topics that are relevant to their work, and help first responders do better at their job.
Tools and equipment
Local governments have the mandate to keep their communities safe, and a big part of this endeavor is to ensure that first responders and their agencies have all the tools and equipment they need to do their job as well as possible. Community leaders and local politicians need to be at the forefront of providing the essentials so that first responders are always armed and ready to face any potential disaster or emergency.
This means that local governments must partner with private sectors such as hydraulic hose franchises to donate new equipment to firefighters, or a local auto manufacturer to ensure that every hospital has the right number of ambulances for the community they’re serving. The public and private sectors have long had a history of partnerships when it comes to providing relief and aid to those who have been affected by disasters or wide-scale accidents, and it’s a partnership that needs to continue for a long time if we are to respond to those who need help the most.
Local governments also extended support to medical frontliners and first responders during the COVID-19 crisis. While no government has been perfect and there is always room for improvement, many local governments across the United States stepped up to extend whatever help they can to the people who were at the frontlines of the battle against this disease. Here are some ways local governments provided support and assistance to first responders and healthcare workers at the height of the pandemic:
- Various local governments provided stipends and hazard pay to frontline healthcare workers, firefighters, dispatchers, police officers, public works employees, correctional officers, sanitation workers, public safety personnel, and other types of first responders
- Because the federal government is in charge of preparing the annual budget as proposed by the president, local governments have had to wait for the budget that was to be afforded to them at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. One of these relief aid programs was the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the First Responders Pandemic Care Act, which authorized a COVID-related death as a line-of-duty death. The act works retroactively, which means that first responders and frontline healthcare workers who died due to COVID-19 will be considered deaths in the line of duty. It also applies to future illnesses that entail a state of emergency, like COVID-19. Those left behind by people who died in the line of duty are provided with financial benefits that can amount to up to $10,000, which means that the families left behind by first responders who succumbed to COVID-19 will receive some form of financial assistance.
Good governance is marked by excellent responses to disaster and tragedy, and one of the best things local governments can do for their communities is empowering their first responders and medical workers. If they continue to uphold the institutions and agencies that help save people’s lives, then they are certainly doing the work for which they were elected.