Frontline During Covid-19-Redefining First Responders?
Who are frontline workers?
Who are first responders?
What are the differences?
Has COVID-19 changed their definitions?
Let’s take this journey together…..
Definition of Frontline
1. a: A military line formed by the most advanced tactical combat units
b: An area of potential or actual conflict or struggle
2. The most advanced, responsible, or visible position in a field or activity
Definition of First Responders
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
The above definitions’ from the merriam-webster dictionary.
COVID-19 has introduced us to a new type of invasion war. Creating a new “frontline” of soldiers fighting in a new type of army.
An army is defined as country’s fighting force. Army definition link
Frontline during the pandemic are our army against the invisible foe.
The foe is a health crisis. Fact, many of the frontline workers are in different industries/sectors that are not health related.
Healthcare workers are taught, and prepared that at a point in their career, they will be exposed to viruses and diseases. They are taught the skills, techniques and if you ask any healthcare worker, they chose to go into healthcare to help people.
Words and processes such as PPE and effective handwashing have become a regular part of our home living. Having left the halls of hospitals and health facilities, becoming common place in our homes. Handwashing techniques and how to wear a mask has aligned many to the regular practices of healthcare workers.
Many have embraced these changes, with much valour and respect.
But let’s face it, fast food restaurant workers, cashiers, transit drivers are not used to these practices. The dedication, understanding and acceptance that the public and other sectors have embraced the safe practices has been amazing.
Grocery store employees, transit drivers, taxi drivers, gas attendants, delivery personnel, and fast food restaurant drive thru employees and many, many others have in my opinion become the new first responders. These roles/jobs are routinely minimum wage jobs and vary from healthcare workers by thousands and often tens of thousands of dollars annually.
Please note, the work of our healthcare sector is heroic and amazing. The difference is that those healthcare workers knew the risks when they accepted their roles.
The person standing at the drive-thru window, or the grocery cashier didn’t.
The fact that these people continue to come in to work to support their families, in my view is amazing.
Consider the university age student who has a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant to help with tuition. My son is one.
Many times he has considered quitting or not picking up shifts, he has fear. Similar to those young soldiers who received their requests to report to the frontline many years ago, he has been nervous about catching the virus or worse spreading it to his family.
Through many supportive conversations from his parents, he has continued to work. Both his parents work in healthcare. We felt our words and support of his views were well rounded and we truly understood his concerns.
The other day, after grocery shopping to support the family. (I have co-morbidities) He then headed to his job at a local drive-thru restaurant.
He got a speeding ticket.
Yes, he was speeding, not by much, but yes, he was driving over the posted limit.
The officer asked him no questions, told him his speed and proceeded to give him a ticket. The ticket cost half of his shift. The officer would be making triple his pay.
The younger generation right now are helping to support the older generation and our economy. With 70% of deaths occurring in the elderly due to COVID-19, we NEED the younger generation. We need them to feel safe and supportive, just like the older generations need.
He will pay the ticket, he committed the offense.
What is perplexing to me, if we cannot show understanding during a pandemic, then when can we?
So one first responder gave another first responder a ticket. Making the world a safer place for everyone.
My son, is learning to look outside box, to understand the importance of the frontline. I am proud.
He is learning about the “grey” areas in life, and seeing the opportunities when to show compassion and support.
He is more than a speeder, he is a first responder, he is on the frontline of this pandemic.
To all of the minimum wage first responders, the ones on the frontline- we see you.
YOU ARE AMAZING!
You have adapted to changes and risks that were never part of your job and have done so gallantly. Protecting yourself, your families and all of us.
Just keep a light foot on the gas pedal.
Keep looking for the gems……