Thankful for our Nation’s First Responders

By Janet Liebsch, Executive VP, USFRA + Disaster Information Specialist

Most people would agree that 2020 has been an unprecedented year with the COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines, BLM/Antifa attacks, riots and “defund the police” protests in multiple cities, higher than normal hurricane activity, massive wildfires and other disasters across our nation.


But one thing that has remained constant during all this mayhem is there are always first responders on the front lines in every city and town willing to run towards and deal with the chaos while the populace runs away to safety. And yes, some cities have hindered public safety officials from doing their jobs, but most of the country lets them do what needs to be done to keep law and order.


For over 20 years Bill and I have worked very closely with many local, state and federal agencies and groups to customize our preparedness and first aid manuals for communities around the nation. Also during the past 10+ years I’ve had the honor and privilege of being an integral part of the U.S. First Responders Association as VP and a moderator and contributor on USFRA sites and social media. 


Many people may not realize this, but there are about 2.1 million active first responders (Fire, EMT/paramedics and Law Enforcement personnel) that support over 330 million people in America.


Because first responders and military personnel see and do many things that are unimaginable to most people, they are a very tight and close knit crew. So much so, they are a brotherhood and sisterhood. They are family.


That’s why it was very tough to watch this year as these amazing people—who are willing to risk their lives to save others—go from HEROES to ZEROES in the media and public eye. Between February and mid-May people were singing, clapping, honking horns, holding signs and showing their appreciation for all the heroes on the front lines during the lockdowns. 


Then things went south in May after the Floyd death—and law enforcement and even fire and EMS personnel and apparatus were getting assaulted during riots – even during emergency calls.


Thankfully things have calmed down for the most part (for now), but with some states locking down again and an undecided election, who knows what the coming weeks will bring.


But there are some things we all can do to help first responders, as well as yourselves and loved ones. 


The more the public is prepared for a disaster, the less strain we place on our local emergency services. Any type of major incident will temporarily swamp 911 call centers and first responders, so by having enough supplies, making family plans, and knowing what to expect and do before, during and after various types of emergencies can alleviate some fear and anxiety.


Some preparedness resources to review and share include…

  • FEMA’s online “Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams”, IS 317, is an independent study course that serves as an introduction to CERT for those wanting to complete training or as a refresher for current team members. It has 6 modules with topics that include an Introduction to CERT, Fire Safety, Hazardous Material and Terrorist Incidents, Disaster Medical Operations, and Search and Rescue. It takes between 6 and 8 hours to complete the course. Learn more at 


  • Download a free 65-page portion of USFRA’s custom first aid and preparedness manual with tips on creating a family plan, disaster kits for homes and vehicles, safety information about floods, fires & wildfires and more at (As FYI, the full 280+ page PDF ebook is also available for only $3 U.S. (80% off) and proceeds benefit the U.S. First Responders Association.)



Another (and more important) thing people can do to help responders is… simply say “Thank you”. Whether it’s a smile and a wave, or you physically saying it to them, or dropping off a card at their agency, or maybe just posting an uplifting comment on their social media id, but those 2 little words mean so much to the men and women on the front lines who are there to help us on our darkest days 24 x 7 x 365.