First Responders: Who Are They, and Why Are They Important?
Have you ever heard someone talk about “first responders” and wondered who and what that means?
First Responders are the people who come to help others after an accident or natural disaster and try to keep people safe. First responders can be firefighters, paramedics, police officers, search and rescue, and people trained in First Aid and CPR. First Responders are important members of the community, because when they come to the scene of an accident or disaster, they try to get everyone to safety, and provide medical care to anyone who is injured or sick.
Firefighters respond to accidents that include risk from fire, such as fires at homes and businesses, car accidents, and earthquakes where buildings have been damaged. They are specially trained in how to fight fires, and will use water hoses, chemical fire retardant, and other methods to put out active fires, or prevent a fire from starting. They will also go inside burning buildings in order to rescue people who are trapped inside.
Police officers are the most common first responder, as they will attend to accident or disaster situations, as well as situations involving crime. Police are trained in the law, and have a strong understanding of how people act. They also are trained to assess threats and damages, how to move people from a risky situation to a safe place, and how to provide basic First Aid and CPR. In any situation, police have the goal to get everyone involved in a situation out safely.
Paramedics are first responders trained in providing medical care outside of a hospital setting, which is why they are important first responders in accidents and other situations. Most paramedics work in teams and will drive an ambulance to the scene of the accident or disaster, and help anyone who is injured. They know how to assess people for injuries, determine how serious the injury is, and what to do to care for that person while they transport them to the hospital.
Search and Rescue first responders are people who are trained to find someone who is lost, or to search through an area affected by a natural disaster to look for people who are injured and help them get to safety. These responders can search for someone who has been lost in the forest or other natural area, and know how to follow trails, identify clues or signs that someone walked through an area, have excellent navigation skills using maps and GPS, and can use radios and walkie-talkies to communicate with other searchers. They are also trained in searching damaged urban areas, such as after a tornado or earthquake, to look through buildings and rubble to find survivors.
People trained in First Aid and CPR don’t always work as police, firefighters, or paramedics because anyone who is interested in knowing how to help can take First Aid and CPR training. Having this training makes them First Responders, no matter what they do for their regular job. Many schools and community groups offer First Aid and CPR training classes, for people of all ages. If this is something you’re interested in, talk to you parent or guardian about taking a class. You may even discover that you want to become a full time First Responder for your future career.