Rain, Snow, Sleet ...
A tribute to First Responders
By Jeff Salter
Before I launch my topic, let me provide my frame of reference: Like most people, I worked full-time for many years and always dreaded those days when I’d have to dash to my car in the rain, slog my way along three city blocks from the parking lot, and arrive at work soaking wet. It was a horrible way to begin a long work shift. Winter
rain was the worst because it was still dark … and cold.
These days, however — other than a handful of weekly commitments, I no longer ‘have’ to brave inclement elements … unless I choose to. This is a luxury I don’t take
So, I’ve taken a side door to my tribute to First Responders. From the comfort of my warm and dry study, I sincerely appreciate those folks who DO have to fight the elements as part of their daily job. They don’t have the luxury of saying: “Uh, send somebody else … I don’t want to get wet.”
Foremost, I cite the members of the U.S. Armed Forces – present and especially past – who’ve done their duty in the worst of conditions. And some paid the ultimate price. Freedom isn’t free.
Next, I thank what we now collectively call ‘first responders’ — law enforcement, fire and hazard teams, medical personnel, and others on the ‘front lines’ of problem circumstances. They have to respond immediately, regardless of the conditions … no matter how uncomfortable (or dangerous) to them.
The next group often gets less attention, but their services are extremely valuable. I don’t know the official collective term, so I’ll call them “infrastructure technicians”. I’m grateful to those who work on downed power lines, broken water mains, dangerous gas leaks, hazardous roads/bridges … and whatever other destruction or malfunction that has seriously disrupted what we view as ‘services’. A lot of these problems occur BECAUSE of terrible weather conditions.
FEMA has gotten a lot of bad press (and possibly deserves some of it), but many of their ‘on-site’ services are essential and highly valued by those who need them.
I’ve already mentioned firefighters, but I want to say a special word of thanks to those individuals who battle forest fires. Just last year there were numerous, terrible fires in Arizona and Texas – as well as elsewhere – which involved millions of acres. It’s difficult to imagine worse conditions to work in.
During and right after Hurricane Katrina, there were folks who went into harm’s way specifically to rescue abandoned pets … that would otherwise have died horrible deaths.
Don’t forget another group of folks who brave cruddy weather so that you and I can avail ourselves of their food, groceries, or supplies. Yeah, on those days of worst conditions, there are employees who haul themselves to the essential stores, stations, &
food places that citizens flock to … especially in bad weather.
It would be possible to stop there, but there’s another group which also deserves my appreciation: deliverers. These are the folks who daily deliver mail, newspapers, packages, gift orders, shipments, etc., in every kind of weather imaginable. I truly admire their dedication.
Left anybody out?
I may have, but it’s not on purpose. I really mean this.
My whole point today – as I write, indoors, about the nasty rain outside – is how fortunate I feel to have the luxury of comfort. And how grateful I am for those who forego that luxury … in order for the rest of us to be safer, healthier, or more comfortable.
I don’t know how ‘loud’ I can get on a blog, but here goes:
Are there other individuals or groups who deserve special recognition for working in inclement conditions?
Are any of y’all – or your family members – among these deserving
folks in my list?
A modified version of this column first appeared on Jan. 12, 2012 on the group blog, Four Foxes One Hound, where I'm the Thursday Hound.