“Pity the firemen as they go past, for every ride may be their last.” My grandfather, Fire Chief in our town, taught us that little rhyme as children to impress upon us the seriousness of the work our firefighters do. It stuck with me; and since my childhood, I have said it every time a fire truck passes me. It’s followed by the sign of the cross and a quick prayer to bring them all back safely. It’s not just the firefighters who run towards, rather than away from, danger. It’s all of our first responders. As a Councilmember, I’ve had the opportunity to hear many stories that never make it to the media. Firefighters who save a life by deploying naloxone. Police officers who stop a suicide or respond first on scene to a dead child. I’ve put on the firefighters’ gear to feel the physical weight they bear. I’ve had the opportunity to stand in the shoes of our officers by participating in simulated training. While not the same as doing it day in and day out for real, I got a small taste of what it’s like to have to make a decision that could save a life or end a life. It’s hard, and the work our first responders do takes a toll…not just physically (although it is physical work) but mentally and emotionally. Since I’ve been on Council, we’ve done a lot to support our first responders, including a phased compensation plan to better compensate them not just upon entry but for time and service. But there is still work to do, and we cannot do it alone or in isolation. This morning, we received an update from Rep. Chandra Dillard, Rep. Tommy Pope, and Senator Shane Massey on legislative efforts to support law enforcement. As we talk with our Greenville County delegation today and over the coming weeks, we are asking our legislators to help us help our first responders across SC in the following ways:
- Support money to be included in the state budget to fund the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder programs for first responders.
- Support reform measures to aspects of law enforcement training and duties.
- Support money to be included in the state budget to fund the Firefighter Healthcare Benefit Plan.
As Councilmembers, not all of our work always takes place at home. Our relationships with state officials are important because we can advocate for Simpsonville at the state level. That’s what we’re doing in Columbia today for Hometown Legislative Action Day.