Responders, Bringing Responders Help
By Rebecca Murphy
Our community depends heavily on Responders, and we have very high expectations of them. But did you know Responders represent a special population disproportionately vulnerable to acute injuries and chronic illnesses – like cancer and depression – the price for keeping us safe? They spend their careers serving the public with few options for taking care of their own.
In 2017, Congress designated October 28th as National First Responders Day. On this day we honor law enforcement officers, firefighters, dispatchers, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and paramedics who answer our calls for help, doing so often at great risk to their own life and safety. This day pays tribute to Responders, honors Responder lives lost in the line of duty, and serves as a nationwide call-for-action to support Responders.
With Responders being active members of our community, perhaps we should ask ourselves what role can we play to ensure the quality responses we demand? How can we respond as a community to aid our Responders? The story of Responder Care™ exemplifies a local Northern Virginia response to a silent call-for-action!
It all started in November of 2022 when local Alexandria Responder was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite having comprehensive health insurance, workers compensation, and all the traditional services available to Responders, gaps in medical coverage were quickly identified. Despite being an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) trailblazer for pubic facing Mobile Integrated Healthcare – Community Paramedicine (MIH-CP), where non-traditional care is brought to the bedside, not a single MIH-CP option emerged for this Responder. Despite being surrounded by a cadre of EMT and paramedic colleagues, all fully capable of providing volunteer EMS & MIH-CP care to their fellow Responder, not even one could do so.
We all experience gaps in medicine and care, but few are so daring to challenge the status quo. While it would be socially acceptable for an off-duty EMTs or Paramedic to provide care to a fellow Responder, Responders are legally limited to providing care only while on-duty, in their jurisdiction, and under the scope and direction of their Medical Director. Additionally, EMTs and Paramedics cannot use public EMS or MIH-CP resources for private individuals, even fellow Responders suffering chronic illness, since resources are reserved for public calls for help.
In most all jurisdictions and communities, this is simply how the system works. But this is no longer the case for Responders in Northern Virginia. You see, once word spread that a fellow Responder, colleague, and friend was dying with pancreatic cancer, it was no longer a silent cry for help. This was a silently deafening call-for-action, and a locally owned business named EMERGILITY™ responded to the call for help.
Utilizing a newly established and fully licensed private EMS & MIH-CP infrastructure, in collaboration with off-duty Paramedics from the Alexandria Fire Department and other local agencies, a team of Paramedics were affiliated under the EMERGILITY™ EMS Agency and authorized to provide private MIH-CP at the home of the dying Responder.
While battling cancer over several months, nine unnecessary trips to the hospital were avoided. That’s nine consecutive times when the Responder was able to be treated in the privacy of their own home, surrounded by family, friends, and fellow Responders.
It can’t stop here. There are more Responders that need our help.
March 2023, with the support of the Responder’s family, friends, and EMS colleagues, Responder Care™ officially launched as an EMERGILITY™ Special Program with Fiscal Sponsorship provided by Global Impact, a 501(c)(3). Established in honor and loving memory of Alexandria Fire Department Deputy Chief Brian R. Hricik (B.R.H.), the aim of the program is “Bringing Responders Help.”
The idea behind Responder Care™ is relatively simple. Private EMS MIH-CP services are delivered by a professional EMS cadre (career & volunteer), with medical operations falling under an existing private EMS Agency infrastructure. These services neither supplant nor compete with existing public emergency 9-1-1 services or private medical resources, but rather provide enhanced and alternative access to care not otherwise available. The goal moving forward is doing the same for other Responders, in honor of Brian.
Today is our local call-to-action. If we expect Responders to take good care of us, we must be willing to take better care of our Responders. Responder Care™ is an invaluable service for our Responders, and it cannot exist without your help!
We invite you to help, volunteer for, and donate to this charitable endeavor so we may continue to help serve, protect, and care for our Responders. To learn more about Responder Care™ visit us at https://responder.care.
For tax-deductible donations, visit https://responder.care/donate, or scan the QR code below.