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National First Responders Day on October 28 recognizes the heroic men and women who make it their business to take immediate action when disaster strikes. Not sure what a first responder does? Just think about 9/11 for a moment. Firefighters, police, paramedics, and more — rushing into Lower Manhattan. Whether you’ve had your own emergency or not, it’s not hard to understand and appreciate the dangerous and difficult work they do.
History of National First Responders Day
Congress designated October 28th as National First Responders Day in 2017. The resolution honors the firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and all those who are first on the scene in stressful situations. Notably, the family of Sean Collier, a police officer ambushed and murdered during events related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, supported the resolution.
A 1966 federal study called Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society named accidental injuries as the “leading cause of death in the first half of life’s span.”
Further, the report showed that vehicle accidents during 1965 alone killed more Americans than were lost in the Korean War — and stated that seriously wounded citizens would fare better in a war zone than on the average city street. The report also identified a lack of regulation or standards for ambulance operations or provider training.
The authors made several recommendations for both managing and preventing accidental injuries, including the standardization of emergency training for “rescue squad personnel, policemen, firemen and ambulance attendants.” This standardization led to the first nationally recognized curriculum for EMTs (emergency medical technicians).
Professional training today can take anywhere from one to three years. Candidates learn life support techniques in first-response situations, including CPR, tourniquet application, and treatment of wounds. Paramedics deliver more advanced procedures and therefore require more extensive education and training.
National First Responders Day timeline
UCLA and Eastern Kentucky University are the first to invite national accreditors to review their EMT programs.
Health experts begin to theorize that more could be done in out-of-hospital settings, including advanced airway management, vascular access and medication administration. This leads to the creation and implementation of the emergency medical technician–paramedic (EMT-P) curriculum.
The popular TV series shows paramedics providing care in a manner that most Americans had never seen. Although purely fictional, Emergency! sets new expectations for the job and encourages many Americans to pursue careers in EMS.
Advanced cardiac life support training provides a crucial new tool to treat patients experiencing a heart attack or some other form of cardiac arrest. Still, it’s not required for paramedic training and certification until the mid 1980s.
Andrew Collier, brother of Sean Collier, an officer killed during the Boston Marathon bombing, helped establish a day of recognition.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Cotton, along with Representatives Mark Meadows, Michael Capuano and Elijah Cummings introduced a resolution to establish National First Responders Day.
The state approved a bill honoring every first responder.
National First Responders Day FAQs
How much does a first responder make?
How do you thank a first responder?
Are flight attendants first responders?
How to Observe National First Responders Day
Whether it's getting your family to write personalized thank you cards or baking some cookies for local firefighters, there are many ways to share your gratitude.
Research how to help finance equipment and resources for first responders. Help those who dare to risk it all.
Maybe you're looking to donate your own time and support. Don't feel the need to be a hero — just help when you can. Take a CPR course if possible.
First Responders By The Numbers
The ultimate sacrifice
One hundred firefighters die in the line of duty each year.
"9-1-1. What's your emergency?"
An estimated 240 million 9-1-1 calls are made in the U.S. per year.
Gone in less than 30 seconds
A fire department responds to a fire every 24 seconds.
EMS to the rescue
Emergency Medical Services takes care of 22 million patients a year.
Why National First Responders Day is Important
It reminds us of their sacrifice
First responders face high risks virtually every time they step out onto the front lines. It's quite likely America's most dangerous career.
It's a day for them to bask in their heroism
First responders put other lives ahead of their own. On this day they get to share joy with teammates and take a moment to feel appreciated.
It's the least we can do
There's not much we can do to pay back these men and women who risk it all for us — nor do they expect it. Still, honoring them on this day is an important gesture.
National First Responders Day dates