Bushfires, cyclones, floods, hailstorms and COVID-19. Time to thank a first responder

I was finding it pretty easy to conclude the world had lost the plot.

In the past decade, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in social inequality, climate inaction, widening divide between rich and poor, international trade wars and increasing nationalism. I’d got to the point where I wondered whether all we could do was focus on what’s best for ourselves.

Ironically, it’s been the recent months of horrific events in Australia that have renewed my hope in society. From the bushfires to cyclones, floods to hailstorms and now COVID-19, I’ve witnessed moments of selflessness, bravery and collective support, inspired by our first responders.

Jess Roussel, Volunteer Firefighter and KPMG Management Consultant

One such moment happened for me on late last year. As I fled Blackhealth from the rapidly encroaching bushfires in the NSW Blue Mountains, I remember thinking “I’m out of here!” While fleeing, I witness a RFS Fire Truck head directly into the smoke that I had just abandoned, sirens blazing. I remember thinking “How useless am I?” but also how thankful I was for them. These selfless individuals saved mine and countless other properties, risking their own well-being to protect mine.

Another moment occurred on the 6 January 2020. I’d returned to work at KPMG, tasked with coordinating the firm’s response to the bushfires. Knowing many of our team were volunteers in local communities, I was keen to check all were safe. This task put names to my heroes. I was struck by how many of our team were brave first responders, sacrificing themselves to help others.

These moments have continued, event after event.

I’m both thankful and saddened that it has taken me 6 months to see what happens every day. These first responders do this every day and every night. Rain, Hail or Shine. Highly trained, exceptionally talented and remarkably caring.

Today is Thank a First Responder Day. It’s where we can publicly recognise the work of our first responders including firefighters, paramedics, police, support staff, SES, marine rescue, Australian Border Force and their families.

Not only do they deserve recognition for their bravery, courage and commitment to our community, first responders represent what is “right” about our world. They protect, care, defend and act for others. And often do so risking their own wellbeing in the process!

I for one, cannot thank them enough.

Thank a first responder on social media using the hastags #TAFRD #firstresponderday #thankafirstresponder

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