The U.S. has been flirting with natural disasters since January 2017, which could exceed 1 billion dollars or more by the end of October this year. By Monday in California, the Sonoma wildfires claimed 40 lives with hundreds still missing and the destruction of buildings is in the thousands; this comes shortly after the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the hurricanes prior to that. Statistics usually tell us how many deaths were caused by each disaster, along with possible cost for their recovery efforts from a multitude of agencies such as Fema, Salvation Army and other charities, not to mention our Federal and States Government, but what they don’t tell us about… is how our first responders are dealing with all of these disasters. They’ve all been doing amazing jobs this year and it’s been stressful because it never seems to end, but how well are they all coping now, as so many are stretching themselves  beyond the normal limits; as they get a first-hand look at the path of destruction and what each one leaves behind; both monetary and human.

When referring to Emergency Responders, many will think about Firefighters, Police Officers and Paramedics at first, but there’s more. There’s also Medical Personnel, Rescuers, Rangers, Military Personnel and those that specialize in public health and science fields, not to mention Community Volunteer Responders. So many people have been affected this year. All First Responders called to a variety of disasters work extremely long hours, some without sleep for days; with shortages of meals and other essentials, such as first aid kits and water; not to mention a place to lay their heads down, if even for a brief moment. Many of them are now being exposed to fires, chemicals, or other sources that breed infectious diseases from toxic waters caused by flooding and more, it’s endless. These people are heroes with families, friends and co-workers, so everyone is impacted in one way or another. Some will suffer from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, while others may experience sleep deprivation or worse. Depending on the social context of the event, most will likely have a physical or psychological response, given the genetic makeup of the individuals past experiences or expectations. Some behavioral responses could trigger feelings of sadness, traumatic grief, and worry with concentration distress. Some may find it difficult to continue working. There’s so much at stake right now.

As communities watch one disaster after another this year, let’s find it in our hearts to give them thanks. Not everyone is able to do something, but you can try. One can call local agencies to find information about which first responders’ teams went out to serve this year… such as police stations, firehouses, medical facilities and volunteer organizations, so you could send a thank you card, or drop off snacks or a homemade meal. Local schools and, or churches could also get involved and start a project of gratitude for our First Responders. Let someone know that they make a difference to those victims and their families, including all of us that watch in devastation. Everyone is grateful for something in this life, and today I am grateful for every single person that serves (First Responders) and has volunteered their services to help those affected by one of these disasters. Without them…things could be so much worse, I cannot imagine. Thank you to all those who have committed their lives to serve others and do so… with all heart; YOU are all HEROES. God Bless you and your families.

Make your week count.