Our first responders are not immune to the many challenges that are impacting our society today. In fact, they are at the front lines seeing the impact of COVID-19 on our communities. The responsibilities of a first responder are to interact with the public, and this hasn’t changed because of the pandemic. As we put our lives in the hands of our frontline workers, how has COVID-19 affected how they do their jobs?
Staying Safe To Serve and Protect
As COVID-19 cases surge across the nation, our frontline workers are requesting more regular access to testing to stay safe. According to NBC Connecticut, members of the Region 4 EMS Council, covering New London County and parts of Windham County, are working to secure weekly, in-station testing for their members.
“If a responder has an exposure at work and they become sick we can get testing pretty readily available, but the testing that I am trying to get established for us is surveillance screening to test providers weekly,” said Maria Wilson, who serves as the president of Region 4 EMS Council. “Catch those asymptomatic carriers before they have the chance to potentially infect the rest of their stations.”
Losing responders during this crisis will affect the community at large and it’s not something they, or their families, can afford. Therefore, testing in-house will continue to gain popularity throughout local police, medical, and fire departments.
Protecting Our Local Communities
Every department is taking extra precautions necessary to reduce the spread of the virus. Wearing masks, taking temperatures, and multiple daily cleanings of work areas and equipment have become the norm. Each first responder is exercising more social distancing or quickly assessing the scene with 1 or 2 people first rather than sending in all 6 responders to the scene.
It’s been a challenging time,” said Los Lunas Police Chief Naithan Gurule. “We’re still trying to get our jobs done but are also having to take a lot of extra precautions. We’re still expected to make traffic stops, look in on businesses, but still make sure we stay safe.”
Throughout this pandemic, first responders have experienced even more traumatic stress during prolonged exposure to emergencies. Burnout and compassion fatigue are probable as each individual takes on more responsibility during longer exposure times. The Tulane Traumatology Institute has conducted a survey to determine the extent of compassion fatigue among doctors, nurses, and other front-line workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disaster mental health expert, Leia Saltzman helped coined the phrase and said, “COVID-19 has presented a new and unique circumstance and so getting more information about what places first responders at risk for, or protects them from, compassion fatigue in this context is important because we have never been here before.”
Most importantly, are being safe and getting the help you need to recognize and recover from early signs of COVID fatigue. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services compiled a document to do just that.
Support for Our First Responders During the Pandemic
Many local governments are providing grants to help first responders receive additional funds for premium hazard pay through grants. In Michigan, the state treasurer announced two new grant programs that will provide an overall total of $300 million to help first responders with incurred costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is still more each of us can do to help.
Start Crowdfunding For a First Responder with Fund the First
Even with grant funding, our first responders and military personnel are still struggling due to the pandemic. Fund the First campaigns have been created to help first responders and the military, thanks to our supportive communities. Campaigns are created not just for financial support but also out of thanks. #FeedtheFirst campaigns deliver food to local departments for police, fire, or other emergency responders.
Through our sophisticated authentication process in partnership with ID.me, we verify the identity of the first responder that is entitled to the funds raised. If you are a first responder or know someone who is in need, learn more about how to start a campaign with Fund the First today!