Many of us are adjusting to the new normal of working remotely. Once-busy streets outside our homes sit mostly motionless, except for the infrequent jogger passing by. With the familiar sounds of a busy society nonexistent, the intermittent whoosh of an ambulance, police car, fire, or garbage truck cuts the silence. These sounds are those of modern-day heroes—essential workers that keep our towns and cities safe and functioning, whether in the midst of crisis or in calmer times.  

First responders cannot do their job from a cozy home office. As many of us are quarantined with the comforts of home, they are working harder than ever. Despite the current pandemic, there are still injuries to be treated, wounds to bandage, and patients to transport unrelated to the current situation. This crisis adds complexity to an already intense workload. Our priority should be keeping them safe, healthy, and as stress-free as possible.  

It’s important to remember that mental health plays a major role in your ability to maintain good physical health. The CDC recommends several steps first responders can take to ensure they are able to do their job and cope with challenging situations: 

  • Monitor each other’s workloads. Encourage each other to take breaks. Share opportunities for stress relief (rest, routine sleep, exercise). 
  • Set up times to check-in with each other. Listen carefully and share experiences and feelings. Acknowledge tough situations and recognize accomplishments, even small ones. 
  • When possible, limit working hours to no longer than 12-hour shifts to avoid burnout. Working all the time does not mean you will make your best contribution.  

Even in times of great disruption and change, we recognize that essential work must go on. To all first responders, and those on the front lines of this crisis: we see you; we thank you, and we recognize you for the heroes that you are.  

Published: Friday, April 3, 2020