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Changing the Political Climate to Recognize First Responders

Changing the Political Climate to Recognize First Responders

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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.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.