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Why firefighters treasure ‘thank you’ letters

You would be surprised with the power and impact that writing a simple “thank you” card to first responders might have

That single act of human kindness of simply saying “thank you” meant the world to me and to this day still does.

A question posted recently on Quora asked, “What would be a nice gift to give the first responders who helped me?” Mike Lewter, a former paramedic, gave his opinion on the topic below. Check it out and add your own thoughts in the comments.

I worked as a paramedic for 12 years before switching professions. About four years after quitting, I ran up on an accident on a mountain back road that was caused by a hit-and-run driver.

It was near Christmas and the woman, who was driving with her two children in the back seat (both under four), was coming back from town after checking off her entire gift list when someone plowed into the rear of her car and left the scene. The force of the impact must have been immense as the rear window was shattered and rained down into the back seat covering her children in tiny squares of glass and the rear bumper was pressed in between the bottom of the rear seat and the rear axle, obviously destroying everything she had just bought. Thankfully, they were all OK, just naturally very scared, shaken, and distraught by the incident.

I immediately checked on the mom, who said she was OK, and then turned my attention to her children, taking care to remove all the glass from their hair and car seats. I was driving a somewhat roomy and warm work van and moved the mom and her children into the van while still keeping them in their car seats to await the arrival of the highway patrol and the local rescue squad because the outside temperature was around 25 that evening.

Since they were medically OK, there was nothing else for me to do other than offer them warm shelter away from the remains of their mangled car. I remembered the incident and prayed for them during Christmas services three weeks later and felt kind of bad that that was the most I had really done for them.

Sometime in mid-February, an envelope showed up at my workplace addressed to the company “care of the early 30s heavy-set white man with a goatee.” In the envelope was both a letter and a card. The letter gave a brief update that everyone made it through the ordeal with no physical injuries, that the driver of the truck that caused the accident was located and prosecuted thanks to what someone who saw the accident happen had told her about a description of the driver and vehicle but which I had to relay to the authorities because she didn’t remember what the witness had said because of the shock of the incident (and the witness didn’t hang around for the authorities to arrive, for whatever reason), and that Santa Claus still made it to visit her children thanks to help from the local fire department.

While the update warmed my heart, the other item in the envelope made the entire time I spent working in the field worth it. It was a “thank you” card with a picture of the mom and her two children.

I have no idea of the number of calls I ran while working for the county, how many lives I helped to save, or how many hours I had worked doing my job, but I do know that in all that time, I very rarely received a “thank you” and never received a “thank you” card. But I did receive a “thank you” card from someone whom I did nothing more than provide them with a safe warm environment and stayed with them until help arrived.

No Band-Aids, no lifesaving procedures, no real aid rendered.

That single act of human kindness of simply saying “thank you” meant the world to me and to this day still does.

You asked what kind of “thank you” gift you could provide to the emergency personnel who helped you out? I think you’d be surprised with the power and impact that writing them a simple “thank you” card might have.

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