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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
First responders are a vital component of all levels of emergency management. Without these people, basic emergency management functions could not occur.
Considering the mass casualty bombings and active shooter incidents of the past few years, it is first responders who take command of these incidents and manage the scene immediately. First responders are essential to emergency management.
Despite their importance, first responders often believe that they're at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the public’s understanding and appreciation of them. Members of the public often do not understand what first responders do or how they handle public safety needs. For example, a recent Pew survey found that “most federal mitigation investments are made after a disaster occurs, and very little data on state funding for such programs are publicly available.”
This lack of understanding or knowledge makes it difficult to advance new public policies. Some political scientists argue that to change or create public policy, there needs to be a general awareness throughout a community or society of a given issue. For change to occur in the public safety realm, there needs to be greater awareness of and support for first responders.
New Stamp Is a Useful Step in Raising Public Awareness of First Responders
A new stamp, however, may be helpful in raising public awareness of first responders. This month, the U.S. Postal Service issued a new postage stamp to honor first responders. As a result, millions of people will be reminded of the important role of first responders when they send or receive mail using the new stamp.
However, a stamp honoring first responders alone will not shift society’s perspective. There needs to be other public relations efforts, so that the general public will better understand what first responders do and their importance in emergency situations.
Perhaps the stamp will serve as a catalyst for a political push to address first responder issues and create new policies that further the cause of these dedicated public servants.