RAA and other first responders share what it’s like to be on duty for the holidays

October 29th, 2018

This article originally appeared in www.lifestylepubs.com

With the holidays around the corner, families are busy planning their days of visiting loved ones both near and far. Many workplaces provide their teams with time off to celebrate, but other lines of work cannot offer that same liberty. First responders must be prepared at any moment, so many spend their holidays in the field serving those in need. Here’s how three local first responders and their teams have created traditions to commemorate the holidays while remaining ready to serve the community.

Lt. Jason Elmore, public information officer/community programs coordinator for Chesterfield Fire and EMS

What does your work look like on a day-to-day basis?

My duties include being the spokesperson for the department, social media accounts, answering media inquiries, as well as managing the community programs unit. The CPU has three educators that teach fire and life safety programs to schools, civic groups, church groups and businesses, among others.

What are some holiday traditions within your unit?

In our division, we are a close work unit. We always have a Christmas party together, along with a “goodie” day where everyone brings in side dishes to the office for a holiday office lunch party. Several of our staff, including me, are on-call during holidays and must plan accordingly with our families to make sure we are available to handle any emergency incidents we are called to help with. When I was assigned to a fire station working shift work, holidays were many times celebrated on other days than the actual holiday due to the fact I was working. It can be stressful among family members.

How did these traditions begin?

In public safety, it is important that work colleagues are close because we rely on each other so much in our jobs. At times, there are life-or-death decisions being made, and we must know we can count on our colleagues. Many of these traditions in the fire service began to continue the relationship building outside the workplace. Public safety employees are part of a unique brother and sisterhood that is truly family.

Wes Wampler, interim director of operations for the Richmond Ambulance Authority

What does your work look like on a day-to-day basis?

In this role, I oversee five captains and five lieutenants, who oversee just under 200 part-time and full-time EMTs and paramedics. My daily responsibilities include general oversight of our staffing levels and ensuring we have the appropriate amount of staff throughout each day so our ambulances can respond to emergencies in a timely manner.

What are some holiday traditions within your unit?

For many holidays such as Thanksgiving, December holidays, New Year’s and Fourth of July, the Richmond Ambulance Authority has provided warm meals for the crews either before or after their shifts. EMS is a 24/7 industry, and while many of our staff members have to work during holidays, it has always been important for us to let them spend time with their work family while enjoying traditional holiday meals. For those that are not able to make it to headquarters, supervisors will take meals into the field so they don’t miss out. We also invite the family of our staff members to come and enjoy these meals with us.

How did these traditions begin?

These traditions have been in place since I started working for the Richmond Ambulance Authority and have been in existence since the Authority’s beginning. I can only imagine they started as a way to show our staff members how much they are appreciated for the hard work they do and again for the sacrifices they make by coming to work while most families are at home for the holidays.

State Trooper William Blount

What does your work look like on a day-to-day basis?

I work within the training division.

What are some holiday traditions within your unit?

Prior to joining the training division, our traditions on the road during the holidays would vary depending on our schedules. We worked with DMV at their scales and would often contribute items to cook out together there or make arrangements to join a trooper’s family for dinner. If spending time together couldn’t work out, we found out who had plans, such as families or kids in the area, and would cover the road and calls for each other so they could spend time with their loved ones.

How did these traditions begin?

These traditions were in place long before I graduated and began working the area, and they were quickly adopted as the norm for Christmas and Thanksgiving and soon progressed into Memorial Day cookouts if the weather and demands of the road permitted.

2019-01-29T14:56:45+00:00October 29th, 2018|
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