National First Responders Day Honors Increasing Number Working on Frontline

October 28 is National First Responders Day

NBC 5 News

First responders have to be at their best to help people on some of their worst days.

"We do put ourselves, perhaps, in the line of danger out of pursuit of serving others," Dallas Fire-Rescue Captain Fernando Acuna said. "In our profession, there's always a concern for our safety.

National First Responders Day gives a nod to that service.

"The fact that the citizens turn around and say, well, it's gonna be your day, it's kind of like the 'aw shucks' moment, " Acuna said. "It's more of a day for us to turn it around and say it's a humbling experience, and more importantly, we thank the public. We thank them for allowing us to serve them."

"In this line of work you always expect the unexpected," MedStar Field Operations Supervisor Roland Hernandez said.

MedStar medics treat each patient as if there might be exposure to COVID-19. "You're always trying to limit the amount of time you're going to be with a patient," Hernandez said.

The risks are real. Dallas Fire-Rescue says roughly 8-percent of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the department started keeping track. That's almost twice the rate of the general population in Dallas County.

"I think that's the hardest part for all of us. We long for that human connectivity," Acuna said. "A school-age kid walks up to the fire engine and asks if he can take a picture with it; those are the things that we miss."

Acuna pointed out, the list of people serving in a first responder-type role has expanded because of the pandemic.

"It's not any different than a school teacher going to work right now or...the store clerk," Acuna said. "We're all in this thing together, and especially today, it'll serve us right to remember that."

"Hopefully we can all, together, get through this pandemic," Hernandez said.

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