There has been a wonderful rallying call on social media in particular behind our emergency services who are literally our front line defence right now against covid-19. There have been initiatives which have focused on delivering food to hospitals, fire engine and garda stations, offers of hotel accommodation and waivers on parking. It is no more than each one our emergency workers deserve, at times of crisis, local or national, they step up, without being asked, it is their duty and they do it automatically without fear, favour or expectation. It is in it’s very essence a vocation.
I want to take the time to not only acknowledge the dedication of these public servants but also of their families. This is a challenge of unprecedented proportions. Many of our family, friends, loved ones leave home every day for 12+ hour shifts, having no idea what dangers face them, and whether their dedication to public service will come at the expense of their own health and their family.
The worldwide pandemic nature of covid-19 has brought into very sharp focus for everyone the role that our security and health services staff play in our safety. We have doctors, nurses, gardai, firefighters who are consciously and deliberately staying apart from their families for an undetermined period of time to protect their families from illness and infection. They go out every day to give, to protect, to heal others and while they do that their families must do without. Not only do without but go about their every day lives trying to accept the reality that mum, dad, brother, sister, wife, dad, mother, wife, husband, might not come back safe and well.
If they do come back safe and well after a 12+ hour shift, they are sleep deprived, probably irritable, stressed and worried about the start of the next shift. But what they try their best to do, for the benefit of their families and loved ones is park all of those difficult emotions, they hold them inside, they try to leave their work at home, no matter how emotionally overwhelming and tragic it may have been, to make the most of that such invaluable time with their own loved ones. Then they go out all over again with the only focus of taking care of and protecting others, our loved ones.
Covid-19 and all the challenges it brings might be new, but this experience of our emergency, health and security workers is not new, this is their day to day experience. It is the experience of their loved ones and families. Every day, before and after Covid-19 they will leave their homes not knowing how they will be when they come home, if they will come home. At the end of the worst of Covid-19 they will continue to protect our health & our security.
The recognition, admiration, support and praise we are currently directing towards these most valuable of public servants must be our default position and not just when tragedy and crisis arrive at our doorsteps.
Right now the best way that we can support our friends, colleagues, loved ones in the emergency services and health services is not praise or social media posts, it’s by staying at home and maintaining social distancing. We need to play or part.
Not all heroes wear capes….