- Anjali Gupta
Thank You, First Responders!
First responders are on the front lines of this pandemic. Despite the risks of COVID-19 and the necessity for better supplies, these individuals work day in and day out, caring for people in the community who need assistance. As we search for ways to assist our communities, service is built into these first responders' days.
Q & A TODAY
TOM, a paramedic on and off since college, currently works 1-2 shifts/week for Montgomery County
DANIEL, an EMT since 2017, works a 12 hour night shift and a weekend shift on top of his full-time job
Q: So I know you have a full-time job on top of being an EMT. Is this typical? How and why did you get involved?
Definitely not typical. I’m one of the oldest active volunteer members. Most of the people I ride with are GWU, Georgetown and American University students who are looking for clinical experience before applying to medical school. I got involved because I love the challenge and also because I wanted to give back, to sacrifice a little for the good of the community.
Q: Amidst this COVID-19 pandemic, what inspires you to stay on?
I’m lucky to volunteer in a good system. Montgomery County is a blended system, with career and volunteer members working together. Glen Echo has a great combination of people. I am close to many of the career and volunteer members to the point where I would feel like I was abandoning them if I did not ride. It is a very common feeling. We are an extended family who look after each other. But this is only possible because my actual family supports what I do, which comes with its own set of risks. I’m very lucky to have them.
A common mantra among first responders is to “be the best part of someone’s worst day.”
Q: What is the climate among your team?
The last few weeks have been intense. Protocols were still developing, PPE was (and still is) in short supply, causing a lot of tension. Last week saw the beginning of the peak - we were responding to a lot more patients who were very very sick or dying, but as a system, things were working pretty close to plan. So far this week, the level of illness is the same, but the number of calls is down a little, which has boosted morale.
The support from the community - in the form of meals and kind words - has been fantastic. It means a lot to know that people appreciate what we do.
Q: How can people help?
The biggest thing people can do is stay home. Flattening the curve is working. It has made it so the number of sick patients is manageable.
We are in a crisis now, but your fire department is always there to serve you. We respond to patient calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please consider supporting your local fire department with tax-deductible financial contributions that go toward lifesaving equipment and supplies.
Q: What has been the biggest change in your job since this pandemic?
Staying on top of the protocol and process changes that are related to PPE, patient contact, patient treatment, and communication with hospitals during the transport and transfer of patients. Q: I know there are some incredibly difficult moments in your job. Are there moments that have inspired you over the past month? Many moments! The leadership, communication and process management by authorities at the local and state level as well as within the fire rescue system (MCFRS) have been inspirational. Additionally, every time I go to emergency rooms, such as Sibley or Suburban Hospital, with a patient, I am full of admiration for the doctors, nurses and other workers who are providing care there.
Q: How do you lift one another up as a team/station?
I think fire rescue workers are a naturally resilient group of people. This trait has helped all of us. In between calls, we find time to regather, regroup, and spend time together. We tell stories to either lessen the pressure or improve how we are operating. There is a strong sense of camaraderie within the stations (BCCRS and Station 26) where I work and the crews with whom I team. I am very grateful for that.
Q: I understand your wife has found a way to be super helpful to first responders amidst COVID-19. Can you tell us about that?
My wife, Jamie, and kids, Ella and Chase, heard that the access to meals and to varied, healthy food at the firehouses had decreased due to local restaurants closing or the recommendation that we minimize non-essential trips out of the firehouse. They raised funds from local residents to provide firehouses with meals from local restaurants. It was a great idea that has been very well received by all involved. The initiative has become integrated into Feed the Fight, an organization that has been doing the same on a much bigger scale with local hospitals and police precincts. I am very proud of my family for what they are contributing!
Thank you to Tom and Daniel and all the First Responders across the country for all you are doing!
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