First responders are the heroes of our everyday lives. Whether it’s putting out fires or responding to medical emergencies, these individuals deserve to be celebrated. In honor of this year’s National First Responders Day on October 28, here are some interesting facts you may not know about the holiday’s origin and a few ideas on how you or your organization can show support.

When Did National First Responders Day Become a Holiday?

Designated in 2019, National First Responders Day is dedicated to the men and women putting their lives on the line to keep us safe each and every day. This can include anyone from paramedics to police, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and firefighters. In 2020 and 2021 alone, we saw how first responders bravely answered the call to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic and take care of American citizens across the country during a time of crisis.

How Can My Organization Support First Responders?

If you have a business or organization that would like to support first responders this year, there are a variety of ways you can help:

  • Provide supplies and training: First responders have to be prepared for anything, and that preparedness requires a lot of outside education and learning. TacMed, a company dedicated to improving survivability in responses to crises, provides training, supplies, protective gear and even simulations to help prepare first responders and citizens for the unexpecting. This kind of preparation is critical to ensuring that individuals feel confident and protected in any scenario. Depending on your industry, you may be able to provide supplies of your own (like personal protection equipment) to first responders as well.
  • Donate to non-profit organizations: There are a variety of non-profit organizations that are dedicated to supporting our first responders. Consider hosting a matching fundraiser within your organization to provide a large donation. Some national organizations to consider include the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, First Responders Children’s Foundation, Responder Rescue, Code Green Campaign or Operation Gratitude.
  • Organize an appreciation event or initiative: The simple act of saying “Thank You” goes a long way. Think about the first responders who live in your area: when was the last time you, or your company, expressed your thanks for their work? It can be easy to rely on a simple social media post, but to go the extra mile, consider organizing an event to gather hand-written notes or gifts that can be delivered to show appreciation. Another option might be to donate pizzas or another meal to a local police or fire station to show your appreciation.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to volunteer their time: Many organizations provide vacation or PTO days for their employees to spend time with their families or friends. Why not offer the same thing for giving back or volunteering? Many fire departments or police stations welcome volunteers to help them get the job done. Consider giving your employees a day or two away from the office to volunteer their talents and time to support their local community.
  • Invite first responders to share their stories: We can read all the articles we want, but there’s nothing like hearing another person’s story first-hand. To help build connections with your employees and first responders, consider inviting a few community heroes to come and speak about what they do and how your employees can support them.

There are a variety of ways to support first responders, but at the end of the day, it’s about finding how your business or organization can uniquely support these individuals through your time, products, influence or income.

How Can I Personally Support First Responders?

Your support of first responders doesn’t have to be limited to what your company can do; there are ways that we can individually take care of first responders in our community. Start by thinking about who you know: are there any firefighters in my neighborhood? Do I know an EMT personally? Do my friends have a child who is a first responder? Have I ever had a conversation with a local first responder?

The most meaningful connections happen in our own day-to-day interactions, and odds are, there’s a first responder out there you could help. Whether it’s providing a meal or babysitting their kids for the day, small acts of service are a great way to show your appreciation.

Whether it’s through large-scale efforts of companies or the simple acts of service from friend-to-friend, make sure you’re showing thanks this National First Responders Day to those who keep us safe.