The most common question we have been asked is, “Why first responders?” The simple answer is our growing passion for these organizations. How did we develop this passion? On March 12, 2020, our family experienced an emergency, and called 911. Cumby VFD was the first to arrive on scene. Three men with the department arrived minutes after the call was made. They were quick to act, professional, and compassionate. Shortly after their arrival, Hopkins EMS arrived. The two men that stepped out of the ambulance immediately took action. They were able to calm their patient, and just like the Cumby VFD, the kindness and compassion they displayed exceeded any experience we had ever had with any one person in the medical field. They conducted tests, asked questions, and treated their patient as if she were their greatest priority. There aren't enough words to describe the feeling you have when you see the people that you know are the only ones that can help you in that very moment. These five men were the initial inspiration behind our fundraising efforts and desire to bring awareness to what our first responders face daily. We are overwhelmed with the idea that there are men and women that choose a career in a field that most people turn from. A career that can easily take a traumatic experience and manipulate a first responder’s emotions. A lifelong career that not only takes the sacrifice of that person and their health, but their spouse and children as well. A career that they do not mentally depart from when they are off the clock. A career where these men and women leave dinner tables with their families or wake up and leave the comfort of their warm beds, to face whatever dangerous situation lies ahead of them. Whether this is a paid employee or a volunteer, these people give 100% to protecting residents in Hopkins and surrounding counties. So how can we give back to the people that vastly give to their communities?
While there IS funding for fire, police and ems; there isn't as much as we would hope for the people that we trust to take care of us when we are not well or in danger. We want to meet the materialistic needs of our first response departments, by providing funding for much needed items that are not in their existing budget. Bunker gear, compression devices, and bullet proof vests are just an example of items that don't last forever, and need to be replaced and upgraded throughout the years. Easily, departments will spend thousands of dollars on protective gear and equipment maintenance in just a matter of months.
It is difficult for us to imagine ever truly needing the assistance of a first responder, and we hope we never have to. But if, and once you do, that moment is engraved in your mind forever. We not only hope, but expect these people to show up quickly, do whatever it takes to make us or our loved one breath again, and to pull us out of dangerous situations. We hope they make the right split-second decisions, even when they have had no rest for 24 hours. We expect them to be the hero when we need them; we count on them to be there. But today, let's turn the tables. There is no better time than now for us to give back and be the supporting heroes for our brave and selfless first responders. Let’s come together, rally behind, and help the people that help people.
Tamara L. Williams
The Reinforcement Foundation