May 1 – First Responders Day

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by David Herman

Since 2013, May 1 has been proclaimed as First Responders Day in Ontario, a chance to acknowledge and give thanks to the first responders of our community. In the provincial act, a first responder is identified as any of the following: police officers, firefighters, military personnel, paramedics, medical evacuation pilots, dispatchers, nurses, doctors, emergency medical technicians and emergency managers.

John R. Okum, Director of Emergency and Protective Services, and Fire Chief for North Grenville, says we should not forget those in the general public (good Samaritans) who identify an emergency situation, make the 9-1-1 call for assistance, and provide witness statements to authorities. And, mentioning 9-1-1, you have to include the people who man the 9-1-1 call centres, who bring the proper responder to you in your time of need.

If you stop for a moment to think about it, we are so lucky to have all these people who respond immediately to help people in distress. Many times, they are putting themselves in harm’s way and putting helping others ahead of themselves. The most obvious people are our friends and neighbors who make up the volunteers of our Fire Service.

About 15 years ago, my wife had a medical emergency, so I called 9-1-1 and the operator not only dispatched an ambulance and two paramedics, but also a member of our volunteer Fire Service. He got the call and dropped what he was doing to rush to our aid on a very cold January night. He provided the additional hands to safely extract my wife from our house and into the ambulance, and then went with the ambulance to the hospital. This particular volunteer is now the Deputy Chief of the Kemptville Fire Service.

Responding to medical calls to residences is not the only thing they do. They also respond to traffic accidents, fires, burglaries, and reports of domestic or sexual assault. Some of the folks listed above do more than the couple of examples I have mentioned; many have devoted their lives to serving their community and their country.

These people are truly worthy of our respect and thanks for all they do for us. If you have a chance, reach out and tell them you appreciate all the things they do to make our community and country such great places to live.

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