Military and Police

Public Safety Service to Others During Catastrophes

How apropos that September 12, 2017 is National Day of Encouragement, the day after Hurricane Irma ripped through our southern states and a few weeks since Hurricane Harvey gouged through Texas and Louisiana. I’m sure millions could use a dose of encouragement, given recent circumstances throughout our nation as well as memorials stemming from the 09/11 obliteration of the Twin Towers.

Two police cohorts of mine, both of whom were on-duty for the last few days of Hurricane Irma’s impressive strength, were NYPD cops previously, assigned “body parts collection” detail right after the Twin Towers were reduced to rubble. That catastrophic incident in NYC led them both to become Florida cops and experience more life-saving measures.

The latest death toll chronicled by Hurricane Harvey is 70 and the number of fatalities from Hurricane Irma are yet to be tabulated. Public safety professionals slowly make their way home to let duty belts drop and indulge in much-needed rest.

A county law enforcement buddy of mine was assigned to the “body recovery unit” throughout Hurricane Irma’s carve through Florida. His service didn’t stop there, however. Once released from a three-day duty stint, he lent his hands in chunking fallen trees and removing hurricane shutters. Nothing inaccurate with the oft-repeated phrase “Always on-duty.”

Reciprocally, neighbors helped the deputy remove and stack his hurricane shutters, ensuring he knew how grateful all are for his service to others.

Throughout the misery our nation confronted lately, service to others climaxed…while media machinations and divisive tactics remain the same old tired monkey show.

In all of our latest natural disaster areas, police officers, firefighters and paramedics/EMTs were joined by our nation’s military personnel and all the apparatus and expertise one can dream about

With a spate of natural disasters –including Mexico’s 8.2 magnitude earthquake resulting in 98 casualties and 1067 aftershocks– I see no reason not to spread encouragement as if it were wildly contagious.

In all of our latest natural disaster areas, police officers, firefighters and paramedics/EMTs were joined by our nation’s military personnel and all the apparatus and expertise one can dream about, by land and by sea:

The Florida Keys is being called “a war zone” after the ravages of Hurricane Irma had her way. It was the first of Florida’s 67 counties to log fatalities directly related to Irma’s force and fury. A friend of mine stayed in his Key Largo waterfront condo and is elated to see a cadre of first responders as well as soldiers arriving in The Keys. He is a retired cop, so I am sure the encouragement is a two-way street.

First responders come in all shapes and sizes, and some even have fur. Service to others often materializes in partnerships. The supportive relationships we have with service animals playing a role in Hurricane Irma search and rescue efforts is uniquely admirable:

Know that the vast majority of Americans stand ready to aid anyone in dire circumstances, such as we are seeing in southeastern states impacted by Irma’s wrath…followed by helping hands mopping up her mess. #NationalDayofEncouragement: Another day to praise folks who provide selfless service to others.

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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