FIRST RESPONDER DAY – May 1st
By Vali Stone
By Vali Stone
At the beginning of 2013 Vali Stone, author of Cops Don’t Cry and 9-1-1: Tales of Courage and Compassion, brought forth her dream to have May 1st proclaimed as First Responders Day.
On December 12th, 2013, Bill 15, “An Act to Proclaim First Responders Day” received Royal Assent. From this May 1st, 2014 and each year thereafter Ontario will be celebrating First Responders Day and honouring all our First Responders.
“I have an extremely high level of respect for all emergency responders who serve our country against crime and that save lives on a daily basis and wanted to give them a voice.
Stress is an inevitable part of emergency responders. You’ve heard the saying, “If you go out in the rain, you should expect to get wet,” but the reality of their work is that they protect us, and can live under the threat of constant danger, threats to their well being, or their health. That can cause a great amount of stress in their professional and personal lives.
Being married to a police officer for over 38 years, and during the research process for both books I learned that emergency responders constantly experience challenges to their values, ideals, and beliefs, along with being exposed to human suffering and human carnage, then add that to damaged infrastructures and the stress can be constant. However, with that comes the most amazing skills and character traits from strong communication and reaction skills, the ability to delegate, to be vigilant, to the gifts of being empathetic, positive and selfless.
9-1-1 was a difficult book to write. It was a challenge to remain detached and focused, but ultimately I was sucked into the emotions that each responder so rawly and openly shared with me. There were sleepless nights, worrisome days, tears and shock. I became so engrossed in their stories, that after a few short months I had a difficult time processing my emotions. Even to this date, each story occasionally comes back as a constant reminder of what our heroes encounter on a regular basis.
Many responders that I interviewed would say “I’m giving you a story that I have never been able to shake, that sticks with me, that has haunted me for years.” They shared their struggles, their suffering, and ultimately in that message, their relief. It was those stories that pushed me to bring forth a First Responders Day.
Responders overcome many obstacles, some with the help of loving family, some through their ‘brotherhood’/’sisterhood’, others through management stress with councillors and debriefing teams who really care about healing them such as i Run & Rock – United by Trauma who is building outreach programs and awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
With First Responders Day, I am proud that we can honour and stay true to these heroic people and the role that they play in our society. I am happy that the public can find the so much needed admiration towards responders as well as their families. Even though the stresses are high, they have chosen to remain in the job, because they want to help us, it’s what they know, it’s their way of being.
Which of us has not experienced in someway, the helpful hands of a First Responder?
There are many celebrations being planned across the province, with the most important inaugural First Responders Day being held at City Hall this May 1.
To support this event, please call Vali Stone at (289)380-2616 or for more information call MPP Frank Klees at (905) 750-0019.
First Responders are the men and women who are here to make our lives better with their actions and examples. May they always be protected and blessed.