The Newnan Times-Herald

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Community support lifts first responders

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Apr. 02, 2021 - 2:39 PM

As we approach a full year of living in a COVID-19 world, our local first responders recently shared what the last 365 days has meant for their agencies.

Without a doubt, it was a year of incredible challenges for everyone. With news and information about the virus changing rapidly, our leaders were forced to be prepared but flexible.

Ultimately what the crisis really exposed was how our community responded, and it was overwhelmingly positive.

When our community went into lockdown last March, first responders and medical personnel didn’t have the option of telecommuting or working from home.

Local leadership began constructing ways to maintain their commitment to serving the public while preserving the safety of their personnel.

In the initial days of the crisis, protective gear was becoming increasingly scarce. Protective masks, originally 88 cents each, increased to 7 dollars per unit while availability was often backlogged up to six weeks.

Because of the solid working relationships between our local agencies, the school board was able to donate 1,000 N95 masks to those in need.

Local groups of residents also donated extra PPE to first responders, while many others helped track gear down.

Others donated food, cards and prayers to those working on the front lines.

In the midst of a crisis like this, keeping morale up was paramount.

The parking lot prayer rallies at Piedmont, filled with the cars of residents wishing to pay tribute to our overworked health care workers, was a powerful statement designed to lift employees spirits in the darkest of times.

At the newspaper, there was never a shortage of information from around the county of residents and business owners finding new ways to lend a helping hand to those working to keep us safe.

How we respond to a crisis is a reflection of our community, who we are and what we stand for.

And despite the challenges 2020 posed to first responders and health care workers, recruitment has never been better.

Sheriff Lenn Wood said his agency is closer to being fully staffed than ever before and attributed this to the community's support of law enforcement.

Seeing firsthand the positive results of new COVID-19 safety protocols, Fire Chiefs Pat Wilson and Stephen Brown said they will become a permanent part of operations going forward.

At Coweta EMA/911, Michael Terrell said he’s seen over 70 applicants of those wanting to help. He attributes the county’s willingness to ensure competitive pay as a factor in recruiting and keeping talent inside our community.

While we’re in the home stretch of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s reassuring to see how our community has supported those who respond to the call to serve, no matter the risk.

This kind of success is a direct reflection of our community, and it’s something to be exceptionally proud of.