On today’s first holiday of the season, there are lots of things to be thankful for – home, family, food, transportation – all the things we take for granted throughout the year. There’s a group of people we also need to be thankful for today – first responders and the others who have to work today. Without them, you wouldn’t be safe, you wouldn’t get emergency medical care, your house would burn down and your Black Friday shopping wouldn’t happen until Black Friday. Add to that those who work at television, radio and gas stations every day of the year so you and yours can be entertained.
The first group to be thankful for is the first responders. Police, fire and EMS work 24/7 to serve and protect us all. The dispatchers working for each of those services around the country also put their own personal celebrations on hold so you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll get the help you need in a timely fashion. The least we can do to show our thanks is to be smart about traveling, not driving if the weather is bad, the streets are slick or you’ve had more than a little to drink. We can be careful when cooking, like not using the turkey fryer in the garage, not leaving anything resting on stove burners and making sure everything is turned off before going in to eat. We also don’t want to stress the system by calling 9-1-1 for silly reasons, like the woman who called because she got shorted fries at a fast food restaurant or a young woman who called to get directions on how to make a turkey.
What about those working in emergency rooms and urgent care centers? They are there when emergencies strike, to take care of those who are having urgent medical issues. How can you help them? If your problem is not life threatening, go to an urgent care center first. Emergency rooms should be reserved for when someone’s life is in danger. Urgent care centers can take care of figuring out if someone has the flu or if the carving knife slipped when the turkey was being carved. Going to the emergency room for illness that isn’t life-threatening puts added stress on ERs and may take resources away from those who really need them.
There are others who are working to make your life more convenient, those working at grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, movie theaters and retailers when everyone else is home. The best thing we can do is give them a smile when we’re there, thanking them for giving up their family time for us. Even if the stores are crowded, there’s no reason to get testy with someone who gave you the gift of their time to serve you.
There are so many others working to make our lives easier, it would take several articles to mention them. But while you’re being thankful for your huge holiday feast, remember those who care for you and yours, as well as those without those things you care so deeply about; a smile, a hug and perhaps a good word goes a long way to help.