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Senate Resolution 670--Designating September 25, 2008, As "National First Responder Appreciation Day''

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


SENATE RESOLUTION 670--DESIGNATING SEPTEMBER 25, 2008, AS "NATIONAL FIRST RESPONDER APPRECIATION DAY'' -- (Senate - September 22, 2008)

Mr. ALLARD (for himself, Mr. Casey, Mr. Akaka, Mr. Bennett, Mr. Brown, Mr. Chambliss, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Domenici, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Enzi, Mrs. Feinstein, Mrs. Hutchison, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Kennedy, Ms. Landrieu, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Levin, Mr. Lieberman, Ms. Mikulski, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Pryor, Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Sanders, Mr. Schumer, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Voinovich, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Wicker, Ms. Murkowski, Mr. Barrasso, and Mr. Menendez) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to:

S. Res. 670

Whereas millions of Americans have benefitted from the courageous service of first responders across the United States;

Whereas the police, fire, emergency medical service, and public health personnel (commonly known as ``first responders'') work devotedly and selflessly on behalf of the people of the United States, regardless of the peril or hazard to themselves;

Whereas in emergency situations, first responders carry out the critical role of protecting and ensuring public safety;

Whereas the men and women who bravely serve as first responders have found themselves on the front lines of homeland defense in the war against terrorism;

Whereas first responders are called upon in the event of a natural disaster, such as the tornados in Florida and the blizzard in Colorado in December 2006, the flooding in the Northeast in April 2007, the flooding in the Midwest in June 2008, and the wildfires in the West in July 2008;

Whereas the critical role of first responders was witnessed in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, when the collaborative effort of police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians to secure the campus, rescue students from danger, treat the injured, and transport victims to local hospitals undoubtedly saved the lives of many students and faculty;

Whereas 900,000 police officers, 1,100,000 firefighters, and 891,000 emergency medical technicians risk their lives every day to make our communities safe;

Whereas these 900,000 sworn police officers from Federal, State, tribal, city, and county law enforcement agencies protect lives and property, detect and prevent crimes, uphold the law, and ensure justice;

Whereas these 1,100,000 firefighters, both volunteer and career, provide fire suppression, emergency medical services, search and rescue, hazardous materials response, response to terrorism, and critical fire prevention and safety education;

Whereas the 891,000 emergency medical professionals in the United States respond to and treat a variety of life-threatening emergencies, from cardiac and respiratory arrest to traumatic injuries;

Whereas these 2,661,000 ``first responders'' make personal sacrifices to protect our communities, as was witnessed on September 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and as is witnessed every day in cities and towns across the United States;

Whereas, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a total of 1,671 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years, an average of 1 death every 53 hours or 167 per year, and 181 law enforcement officers were killed in 2007;

Whereas, according to the United States Fire Administration, from 1996 through 2005 over 1500 firefighters were killed in the line of duty, and tens of thousands were injured;

Whereas 4 in 5 medics are injured on the job, more than 1 in 2 (52 percent) have been assaulted by a patient and 1 in 2 (50 percent) have been exposed to an infectious disease, and emergency medical service personnel in the United States have an estimated fatality rate of 12.7 per 100,000 workers, more than twice the national average;

Whereas most emergency medical service personnel deaths in the line of duty occur in ambulance accidents;

Whereas thousands of first responders have made the ultimate sacrifice;

Whereas, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and emergency medical workers in the United States were universally recognized for the sacrifices they made on that tragic day, and should be honored each year as these tragic events are remembered;

Whereas there currently exists no national day to honor the brave men and women of the first responder community, who give so much of themselves for the sake of others; and

Whereas these men and women by their patriotic service and their dedicated efforts have earned the gratitude of Congress: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate designates September 25, 2008, as ``National First Responder Appreciation Day'' to honor and celebrate the contributions and sacrifices made by all first responders in the United States.

Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I rise to submit a resolution today that will designate September 25 as National First Responder Appreciation Day. Last year I introduced this resolution with my good friend and colleague Senator Robert Casey and I am pleased Senator Casey has joined me again in honoring our first responders. I am also pleased to be joined by Senators Akaka, Bennett, Brown, Chambliss, Clinton, Coleman, Crapo, Domenici, Durbin, Enzi, Hutchison, Inhofe, Kennedy, Landrieu, Leahy, Lieberman, Mikulski, Murray, Pryor, Rockefeller, Sanders, Stabenow, Stevens, Voinovich, Whitehouse and Wicker in this important recognition of our men and women who keep us safe.

The contributions that our Nation's 1.1 million firefighters, 900,000 police officers, and 890,000 emergency medical professionals make in our communities are familiar to us all. Their heroics can be seen every night on our TV screens, read about in our papers, and heralded by the survivors of every modern disaster. From the wildfires in Colorado and California, the tragic events at Virginia Tech, and the horrific damage of Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, and Ike, our first responders regularly risk their lives to protect property, uphold the law, and save the lives of others.

The duty of a first responder is never without risk and requires the courage to place the safety of others ahead of one's own. It is courage that compels a firefighter to rush into a burning building, a police officer to charge into an active shooter, and an emergency medical professional to perform precision lifesaving procedures in the most hazardous conditions imaginable. While all of these brave Americans know the risks involved, some make that ultimate sacrifice to save another, at the cost of their own life.

Every year over 100 firefighters and nearly 200 police officers are killed in the line of duty. And while some may not consider a career in the emergency medical services dangerous, EMS workers actually have an occupational fatality rate comparable to that of firefighters and police officers. I know I speak on behalf of all Americans when I express my sincerest appreciation for their service and sacrifice.

While we recognize our first responders for their sacrifices, we also acknowledge their everyday contributions that make our communities throughout America a safer place. In addition to battling fires, firefighters reach out through fire prevention and public education, like teaching our children about fire safety and proper emergency response. In addition to arresting criminals, police officers encourage communities to stay involved in crime prevention and cooperate with law enforcement to help make our neighborhoods safer and more livable. If we or our loved ones experience a medical emergency, EMTs are there at a moment's notice to provide lifesaving care.

In many ways, our first responders embody the very best of the American spirit. With charity and compassion, these brave men and women commit themselves to preserving the highest standard of life we all enjoy in this great Nation. Through their actions they have become heroes to many, through their examples they have become role models to us all.

While various cities and towns have recognized the contributions made by their local first responders, there exists no national day to honor and thank these courageous men and women. The time has come to give our first responders the national day of appreciation that they deserve.

Designating September 25 as National First Responder Appreciation Day provides an opportunity for this institution and the people of the United States to honor first responders for their contributions, sacrifices, and dedication to public service.

I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting passage of this worthwhile resolution.


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