While there's a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day and an International Firefighters' Day (January 9th and May 4, respectively, for those who want to mark their calendars), there is currently no national day of remembrance and appreciation for first responders. Firefighters and law enforcement agents certainly fall under the umbrella of first responders. However, there are also other individuals who are not firefighters or law enforcement agents who go out everyday to brave natural disasters and emergency situations.

Petition calls for National First Responder Appreciation Day

To address this glaring omission, several groups have attempted to get a day recognized in the past. Advocates first proposed in 2006 to create a National First Responder Appreciation Day, but their petitions were unsuccessful.

However, supporters have recently renewed their efforts to establish this day as a way to show thanks for everything first responders do. After failing to pass the first attempt, Congressman Michael Capuano has reintroduced legislation to have a nationally recognized National First Responders Day. To further support his proposal, there is an online petition you can sign to help show the overwhelming public support for the establishment of this national day of observance.  


Why First Responders deserve a day of their own

The title "first responder" can be somewhat of an abstract concept for some people to understand since it covers a wide range of occupations, some public and some private. So what roles fall under the umbrella of first responders?

From emergency medical technicians and paramedics to animal control officers and park rangers, a first responder is anyone who is specifically trained to respond to an emergency. While most first responders are members of their local community, others may serve a role in the federal government, such as in the Coast Guard or as a TSA agent.

"There are more than 90 different types of jobs considered as first responders."

According to the National First Responders Organization, there are more than 90 different types of positions that fall under this title. These individuals play a crucial role in keeping people and property safe during dangerous situations. Without their fearless and focused contributions following natural disasters and other emergencies, the fallout from any one of these types of events would be even more devastating.

Shedding more light on the situations and hazards facing first responders by dedicating a national day of appreciation will help raise awareness among the general population and highlight the thanks we offer to these individuals.

For instance, The National Emergency Number Association reported that Americans make an estimated 240 million calls to 911 each year on average. Emergency medical services personnel treat 22 million patients a year. Yet, despite the fact that work-related injury and fatality rates among U.S. EMTs and paramedics are higher than the national average for other occupations, very little is known of the risks they face on the job, according to a 2013 study published in the "Prehospital Disaster Medicine" journal.

With greater awareness of the obstacles and risks involved in these occupations, we can find new avenues for safety precautions and post-event treatments.

Local observances of First Responders Day

While there's no federal day set aside to honor first responders, many states and local communities have dedicated days to honor these brave individuals.

For instance, Texas shows their respect for First Responders on September 11. Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mayor Richard Berry recently declared July 30 as First Responder Appreciation Day. 

Even if there is no nationally observed first responders day, we can still take time to thank these men and women for their help and continue to raise awareness to the dangers they face on a daily basis.