Hats off to our local heroes: A thank you to our first responders

By Haldimand Press Co-Publishers Kaitlyn Clark & Jillian Zynomirski

Welcome to the second annual Local Heroes special section.

This section, which corresponds with Fire Prevention Week (October 4-10, 2020), is dedicated to all of Haldimand County’s first responders. Whatever hat they don, their work is all equally important in keeping our residents safe and healthy.

The Haldimand Press started this section five years ago, although then it was focused on recognizing the hard work and dedication of our local firefighters specifically. In 2018 we started a section for paramedics and police officers, which aligned with their respective national celebration weeks in May. Last year, recognizing how much these three groups overlap in their work, we decided to combine these two sections into what you see today.

Whether they arrive on the scene of an emergency in a police cruiser, a fire truck, or an ambulance, all first responders put their own lives at risk to help others. Many improvements have been made over the years to decrease the risk first responders take. This includes increased training, more equipment and uniforms that are better suited to the task, and increased supports when off shift as well, such as for mental health. However, no matter how good you are at the job, no matter how good the tech gets, and no matter how much management supports their staff, there will always be some risk when you run into dangerous situations instead of away from them. 2020 has proven this even further with the additional risks brought on to all first responders because of COVID-19.

It isn’t that first responders aren’t aware of the risks though. If anything, their firsthand experience means they know the risks better than we could ever fathom from afar.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

Similarly, Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

This is the cornerstone of what it means to be a first responder – the decision to aid your fellow man despite knowing the risks.

First responders are there for us on the worst days of our lives. From when we lose our home to fire to when our loved ones are in an accident, whatever the emergency may be, Haldimand’s first responders are ready to help. It’s an incredibly difficult job to do. They put their own physical and mental wellbeing on the line to protect others, each and every day.

For this reason, and as Thanksgiving approaches, we truly should be thankful for our first responders. They keep us safe, and in turn we should help them when we can. A strong support system can make all the difference for a first responder coping with the difficulties of the job.

Sometimes a ‘thank you’ can go a long way, including for first responders. It’s a small show of support and a reminder that their efforts are appreciated. So, if a police officer, paramedic, or firefighter has ever made a positive impact on your life, I encourage you to let them know how they helped you.

And to any first responders reading this right now, from all of us at The Haldimand Press, we thank you for your service.

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