This is a repost of an article I first wrote in 2006. I run it once or twice a year because it is a personal cause of mine, and I believe it is important - not only for the essential workers - but for the community as a whole. -F.M.
While I understand many may try to self-isolate during a pandemic, for some people, that won't be an option. Your local LEO’s (law enforcement officers), firefighters, EMT’s, nurses, utility workers, National Guard troops, and even mortuary workers won't be able to hunker down and wait out a crisis.
They will be on the front lines.
Many of these folks have families to worry about. Some may find themselves quarantined for weeks away from home, hold up in barracks with other workers, so as not to risk taking the virus home.
It will be a tough job. For some, undoubtedly, the last job they will ever do. Some will never return home. And they know that. For most emergency workers, it’s something they think about every time they put on their uniform. Most of the time, the risks are relatively small, but during a pandemic, they will be at much greater risk.
The hardest part for them will be leaving their families behind to fend for themselves. Some may decide not to do so, and will refuse to report for work. But most will answer the call.
There is something you can do for these folks, now, before a pandemic strikes, that can make their job, and their decision easier. You, and your neighborhood can adopt an essential worker.
Not so much the worker themselves, but their family.
Think about finding a nurse, or an EMT, or a cop in your neighborhood, and introducing yourself. Find ways to support their families during a crisis. And no, it needn't be just for a pandemic. These folks go into harm's way during hurricanes, floods, tornadoes . . . or any other crisis that threatens the community.
These folks will be out there, putting their lives on the line. Knowing their neighbors are watching out for their spouses and kids would mean a great deal to them.
It doesn’t have be a lot. A phone call each day, to check on them. A casserole passed over the fence. A security check of their home. An assurance that, if they run short of supplies, their neighbors will pitch in and donate something.
There are a thousand ways, large and small, that you can help support these folks, so they can go out and protect your lives and property.
And you won’t have to expose yourself to the virus to do it. A gift of food or water left on their doorstep. Extending your security perimeter to include your neighbor’s house. Or just a reassuring daily conversation with family members who will be terrified about what their loved ones are going thru in the pursuit of duty.
Your reward will be twofold. You will have done something good for someone, and your community as a whole. And likely, you will receive a certain amount of protection from the people you help. They will know who you are, and will keep an eye out for you and yours, while you help out taking care of theirs.
Think of it as a way to attract a little extra security. Believe me, it never hurts to have a friend on the police force or in the fire department.
Don’t have a neighbor who qualifies?
During a prolonged crisis call your local firehouse, police station, or ambulance service every couple of days (use their non-emergency number) and let them know you’ve got a casserole, or a couple of pies, or a thermos of hot coffee waiting for them on your front porch. I can assure you, they will appreciate it.
Maybe one person can’t make much of a dent. But every little bit will help. And hopefully you can lead your neighbors by example.
You don’t have to put on a uniform to be a hero to your community. You just need to think like one. And act like one.
Pretty soon. You’ll be one.