To The Herald-Whig:
The term "FIRST RESPONDER" has been used to describe people who arrive immediately at the scene of an emergency since the 1970s. Since 9/11 we rightfully have identified these Firemen, Police, EMTs, Paramedics and others as people who do heroic work. As we have all come to truly realize their value, we should always show them our appreciation and our gratitude.
There is another group of dedicated responders we would like you readers to recognize. This is not a request to turn attention away from our brave "FIRST RESPONDERS," rather to look upon another group of dedicated souls who we would like to recognize as our "LAST RESPONDERS."
The women and men who handle the terminally ill and aging populations in nursing homes, hospices and critical care units across this country are a special type of people. They are not the faint of heart. They take care of us when the aging process or poor health has caught up - and we can no longer care for ourselves. These CNAs, Nurses, Social and Hospice Workers and others perform their jobs professionally and palliatively. They too are brave and dutiful workers whose value, we believe is under recognized.
It is impossible to list all of the tasks these wonderful people do every day. However, I'd like to share with you words from one "LAST RESPONDER" who became especially important to me and my loved one during our journey. "Knowing who they were before they came to the home, their family relationships, friendships, the work they did. Knowing what is important to them. Knowing their fears, or what gives them joy. We are there with them, every part of every day, and they become our friends. It is very rewarding and fulfilling to be able to care for another person, when they are at their most vulnerable. And it is a privilege to get to know so many people in a way that is real, raw, and just honest human connections. We love them, even knowing they will pass, which takes a toll."
For their hard work and dedication to all of our loved ones who have gone before us, I wish to thank and honor and respect all of our "LAST RESPONDERS."
Kent Adams and Laura McReynolds