Everyday, first responders put themselves at risk for our health, safety, and comfort to serve and protect. They rush into fires and floods, to the scenes of horrible auto accidents, into private homes during a global pandemic, and unfortunately, to community tragedies. They do this selflessly putting their lives in danger for the greater good, and sometimes carrying scars of their experiences. They do this for us.

October 28th has been established to honor those who arrive first on the scene. If you know a firefighter, a policemen, or a paramedic, you are lucky enough to know a special human being who will be there for you when you least expect it. Take this day, and better yet, this whole month, to acknowledge these men and woman.

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First responders affect our lives on a daily basis. Here are a few times they have affected mine:

The other day, I waited at a stoplight on Jay Road as cyclist and runners came by for a local triathlon. A police officer directed traffic making sure the athletes could safely pass. This is, most likely, an activity that many people take for granted: a policeman, standing in the middle of the road, waving cars by. What is overlooked, is the risk they take to make sure everyone else is safe.

One day, at 3 a.m. I wandered around my house trying to figure out which fire alarm was causing the incessant beeping and robbing me of my precious sleep. Eight hours later, after taking the batteries out of every single fire alarm and still hearing the beeping, I called the non-emergency line to the Boulder County Fire Department. I got a nice woman on the phone who patiently listened to my sob story and at the end of it said, “Is this Erin Pass?” Of all the people to answer the phone, it was Emergency Management Coordinator, Kim Scott, the only person I know in the entire Boulder County Emergency Department. Kim patiently stayed on the phone with me while I wandered around the house chasing the beeping which we eventually discovered was a CO2 meter that was low on batteries and plugged into the wall outlet instead of the ceiling. People like me, tie up phone lines all the time!

On another occasion, I smelled gas in my house. Within three minutes (I kid you not), there were two firetrucks at my house evaluating the situation. It turned out my furnace had cracked, requiring the gas to be immediately turned off. An inconvenience for me, and one that most likely saved my life (or at least saved me from harm).

Years ago at age 23, I was hit by a car on my bike. The first person to get to me was an off duty firefighter. He dropped everything he was doing to help me, and stayed with me, immediately applying pressure to my wounds until the ambulance arrived. EMS took over from there and continued my care until I arrived at the hospital. I never had the opportunity to thank any of those responders.

These are some examples of how First Responders selflessly have helped me, and they do this for every person, every day. These are the small things we may not think about.

How to say thanks:

  • Verbally say “Thank you”.

  • Write a letter.

  • Make a gift basket.

  • Buy a gift certificate for a first responder for some type of self-care.

  • Buy a meal for an individual or group of first responders.

  • Donate to a cause that supports them such as mental health support or the Sander Cohen Scholarship Foundation.

  • Give them your time.