Who are first responders?
A first responder is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person (such as a police officer or an EMT) who is among those responsible for going immediately to the scene of an accident or emergency to provide assistance.” These brave men and women are the first to arrive and render aid at an emergency scene like an auto accident, natural disaster, terrorist attack or—as the events of the last year have shown—a global pandemic.
Law enforcement officers, paramedics, EMTs and firefighters have all been at the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as they continue to serve their communities and risk exposure in order to protect and help individuals like you and me.
Here at the personal injury law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, we’ve represented thousands of clients throughout South Georgia and across the Southeast for over 50 years—many of whom owe their lives to first responders.
In addition, in the past we’ve sponsored a Fans of First Responders Giveaway, where we gave away $500 during each Sunday Falcons game on Fox24 to a first responder selected by random drawing.
So when considering a focus of our first-ever Scholarship Essay Contest for college students, we naturally were eager to honor these courageous and selfless individuals by focusing on the unique challenges they’ve faced during this difficult time. Ultimately, we settled on the following question:
How have the roles of first responders changed since the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic? How may this impact their roles in the future?
We asked college students to answer this question in 500 words or less, and were thrilled to receive submissions from all over the country. In the end, we had to select just 1 winner. We’re excited to announce that our winner is Alejandro Patiño, a pre-med student at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Congrats Alejandro on your scholarship, and thanks to all students who participated!
Without further ado, here’s his winning essay:
How have the roles of first responders changed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic? How may this impact their roles in the future?
Being a first responder myself, I feel like our roles have changed dramatically since the pandemic. Through my four years of working at a hospital, as a nurse assistant, I had never had to choose between exposing myself and my family to a deadly virus or being on the floor saving lives. Without a doubt I chose to be at the hospital even though my entire family was against the idea of me going back to work. I had decided that I would rather die knowing that I had pursued my passion of helping those in need than just stepping aside in a time of need.
When I was working, I did my best to give my patients hope. Reassure them that their fight was not over and that there was light at the end of the tunnel. At times, it was hard keeping hope, seeing your patients code and know that they might not make it to the next day. However, seeing most of my patients recover and leave the hospital overjoyed and grateful was all I needed to continue my work.
Unfortunately, something that was bound to happen was that not only did I, but my entire family tested positive for Covid-19. Not only has it been the hardest time for me physically but mentally as well. I believe that our roles outside of being first responders have definitely changed. Since the pandemic started, we have had to sacrifice and make changes to our lives outside of work like daily activities, family, social life.
However, when it comes to our work, I feel like it hasn’t changed dramatically because we have always been there. We are huge contributors to society. People don’t realize how much first responders do for them until something like a pandemic or 9/11 happens. Where it has affected our role as a first responder is that we face threats every day, but we have never had to face a threat that has taken more than 180000 lives in the U.S. alone.
We are not only risking our own life but the lives we are close to. Our lives have gone from having a life outside of work to not having one. Every hour of every day has gone towards fighting in the war against this virus. It also has affected us not only physically but mentally as well. Our role is to help those in need and save lives but it’s hard when there’s so many people dying and there’s not a cure to defeat this virus.
Overall, our role as first responders has not changed completely because our obligations and tasks are still the same. However, does our role require more of us? Yes, because we have had to make sacrifices, dedicate more of our time, and risk the chance of getting a deadly virus. Our roles as first responders will continue to be the same.
We will continue to be there when we are needed. Even if the way we help people change, such as having to wear personal protective equipment, our role is still the same.
About our winner
Alejandro Patiño is 21 years old and currently a junior at The University of Texas at San Antonio. He is majoring in biology with a concentration on pre-med. He has been a nurse assistant at Memorial Hermann Hospital for 4 years.
Some of Alejandro’s hobbies include baking, drawing, and working out. He also enjoys volunteering at the blood center and spending time with family.
Stay tuned for more scholarship news!
If you are interested in participating in our next essay contest, we invite you to visit our Scholarship page to learn more about the essay requirements, the selection process and see the next essay prompt. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact us.
Also, be sure to come back and visit our blog soon for a follow-up post featuring other student responses from this contest.