Ask any first responder why they chose their profession, and the overwhelming answer is that they were called to serve and help others. Chances are, this was yours too.
The last couple of years have been like no other, with you and your fellow first responders on the frontlines of multiple crises facing our communities and nation all at the same time. It’s been rough going.
But sometimes the antidote to tough times is to reconnect with your “big why” – the reason(s) you signed up for this profession in the first place and why you and your colleagues keep showing up every day, no matter what the day brings. Here are some common “why’s” we hear from first responders – what resonates for you?
Making a Difference
This is one of the few careers where your actions, talents, and presence can make a literal life and death difference. You have a direct impact on improving communities and making them safer. In your role, you often lead by example and can positively influence others, which means you have the privilege of helping someone become their best self.
There’s no feeling quite like being part of a team or unit with a higher purpose. Everyone has their role and is there to support and work with each other toward a common goal. You may go through tough, grueling situations together – some are tragic, but others offer up the best of humanity too. This is your support network that understands you and shares the emotional and mental challenges that come with the job. For many, your “work family” ends up being your closest life-long friends.
First responder jobs require physical strength and stamina. The profession demands that you stay in shape and in top form – ready for whatever physical challenges the day may throw at you. Many first responders maintain their fitness by running, lifting weights, hiking, and other outdoor activities. This primes you for long days and long hours, bouts of intense activity, and sudden emergency situations.
Flexibility and Mobility
There’s no 9-to-5 here! Your profession offers flexible hours and variety in terms of different placements, shifts, and rotations. For some, this flexible schedule allows them to work a second job or pursue other interests or hobbies. Another perk: You can also work wherever you want! Your skills and training are in demand in cities and communities across the country (and globe, really), which gives you the unique advantage of being able to pick and choose.
No Two Days Are the Same
For a first responder, the constant is change. Each day is different – one day could be an emergency call across town; the next, a day of paperwork in the office; and the next, patrolling a neighborhood that’s experiencing a crime wave. You never know what the day will bring, but you always bring the skills and experience to deal with whatever the situation calls for. If you thrive in these kinds of environments, you picked the right career.
A Reason to be Proud
Because you and your colleagues save lives, stand up for what’s right, and are called to serve others, you’re respected by your communities. Integrity and duty are baked into this career, so you consistently earn the loyalty and admiration of colleagues, friends, family, and community members.
This line of work usually includes opportunities for professional development, continuing education, and obtaining training or new skills. If you want to pursue a specialty within your profession or even branch out to another division, there’s usually a clear path and support. Additionally, because this work is mission-driven, it invites self-reflection and personal growth.
Connection with the Community
As a first responder, you build relationships within your community and the neighborhoods you serve. You have the satisfaction of seeing your efforts pay off over the long term. And you’ll be able to team up with organizations and individuals, united in a shared goal of strengthening community bonds.
If anyone is built for resiliency during tough times, it’s you, our first responders. But on those tough days, remember your big why’s and also that your communities and neighbors are grateful for and appreciate you. Sometimes it’s not said enough, but we thank you so much for your service and commitment to keeping us safe!
And finally, if you’re someone who’s looking at pursuing this career, talk to first responders about their experience and advice. Look at enrolling in courses or joining mentoring or other programs offered by your local agencies. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more demanding, mission-driven, and rewarding career.
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