NEW BRITAIN – While the coronavirus pandemic has upended life for nearly everyone, first responders have had to face more risks than most and community members are showing their appreciation.
Through a partnership between Liberty Integrated Behavioral Health of New Britain and DoTerra essential oils, they delivered 200 self-care packets of essential oils to firefighters and emergency medical services workers Wednesday morning at the New Britain Fire Department headquarters.
This is a way to make sure that the first responders know that the community supports them and there are services available for them during these tough times, said Cristina Meehan, co-founder and director of Liberty Integrated Behavioral Health.
“The well-being and mental health of our first responders are very important. Many of us read about what’s going on but they’re actually witnessing what’s happening every time they get called and that’s a heavy burden to carry,” said Meehan. “They don’t get recognized enough and we wanted to do something for them. So I teamed up with DoTerra, who created essential oil rollers that can help them during tired days and working long hours. Whether it’s to relax or a quick wake up, it’s a reminder to take care of themselves while they’re caring for others.”
Alex Morisano, captain of New Britain EMS, said it’s a great feeling to see the community recognizing them for their service and hard work.
“This is our job. We don’t do it for notoriety or recognition and I feel a lot of people who deserve that recognition aren’t getting them” he said, referencing to a wide variety of essential services workers, including gas station cashiers, supermarket greeters and grocery store workers who are stocking shelves during midnight shifts. “These people really deserve to be recognized, which makes me feel extra blessed that people are taking the time and energy to make these essential oil packets for us,” he said.
One of the hardest challenges for a first responder is not knowing whether or not they’re heading out to a COVID-19 related case, when they get called and if they risk bringing home the disease to their families, said Morisano.
“The daily ins and outs of a paramedic or an emergency medical technician, is already complicated. With the added stress of COVID-19, that’s a piece that we’re very cognizant of,” said Morisano.
EMS workers are encouraged to be active and to get as much fresh air as possible, said Morisano.
“We have resources both internal and external to help manage any concerns. That’s a really big deal for us because we can’t do our jobs if we’re not healthy, and mental health is just as important as any other health aspect,” said Morisano.
As a certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, Meehan stated that since first responders now have to take additional time to put on protective gear, it cuts into their response time. Her husband is a New Britain firefighter and they have discussed the difficulties of balancing protecting themselves while still being able to help others in a timely manner.
“That’s a huge stress and burden knowing that people want the first responders to get to them faster, but they have to take the time to protect themselves as well,” said Meehan. “That impacts their mental health and it’s important for us to recognize that.”
For Bruce Baxter, chief of service for New Britain EMS, he said he is humbled and honored by the generosity of the community.
“The people are putting blind faith in us when they dial 9-1-1 for help,” he said. “The trust that has to exist between the community and its services provider is something that I’ve never taken for granted. Our team earns that trust with every call they respond to and people see it. I will never stop advocating for the people working the frontlines.”
Contact Catherine Shen at 860-801-5093 or firstname.lastname@example.org