Second responders, often overlooked, get their moment of recognition, too

Often overlooked are the so-called second responders, who work as tirelessly as first responders.

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Hardly a day passes that a significant number of Tempe and West Chandler residents don’t utilize—and offer heartfelt thanks for—the services of their community’s first responders: fire and police personnel who come to their rescue in moments of life-saving urgency.

But all too often, forgotten is the support provided, sometimes even invisibly, by that group collectively known as “second responders.”

The vital work provided by this all-too-frequently unnoticed corps of dedicated personnel is the reason behind the annual observance of Second Responders Day.

This year, in appreciation of those across the community who have tirelessly gone above and beyond serving the needs of people during this very trying time, Maricopa County adopted a resolution to recognize that cadre known as second responders.

Represented among these are case managers, shelter staff, warehouse and grocery workers, meal providers, janitorial staff, counselors, transportation and delivery providers – among others. At Maricopa County, second responders include the teams of people in Human Services, Public Health and the Office of the Medical Examiner who have been serving an increase in the need for their services over the last year and a half.

“The work of second responders has taken on a whole new meaning during the COVID era,” said Lee Ann Bohn, assistant county manager.

“Every day for nearly a year and a half, our second responders in Human Services, Public Health and the Office of the Medical Examiner have helped fellow members of the community whose lives have been forever changed in a variety of ways by the pandemic.:

Since March 2020, Maricopa County Human Services Department employee and partner second responders have responded to the community by:

  • Providing $50 million of rent and utility assistance to families facing eviction or shutoffs.
  • Implementing innovative strategies to address the health, housing and medical needs of people experiencing homelessness, including expanding shelter capacity during periods of extreme heat.
  • Delivering services to seniors and adults with disabilities to ensure that they are staying safe.
  • Working with families to ensure their young children had virtual learning opportunities and now, safe Head Start classrooms to further their in-person learning.
  • Keeping Workforce Development centers open and discovered new ways to provide employment searches, interview preparation and job training services to job seekers

The Maricopa County Public Health team has:

  • Investigated more than 600,000 COVID cases.
  • Conducted hundreds of webinars for partners in healthcare, schools and municipalities.
  • Organized hundreds of COVID testing events, bringing testing services into community settings.
  • Held hundreds of vaccine events around Maricopa County.
  • Answered tens of thousands of calls and emails from residents.
  • Mobilized thousands of volunteers, who have contributed over 100,000 hours serving the community.

The team at the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner has responded to a 26 percent increase in reported deaths in calendar year 2020.

The county’s Emergency Management team has provided millions of units of personal protective gear throughout our community to schools, medical providers, municipalities and other community partners to protect their second responders as they deliver services to the community.

The Resolution of Support for Second Responders recognizes the crucial role that second responders have in the community’s overall ability to manage crises. Risking their own health, second responders have heroically served our community to provide essential services that support recovery.

“Second responders are a vital part of our ability to manage crisis and help people heal,” said Bruce Liggett, director of the Maricopa County Human Services Department.

“These caring and compassionate people provide critical and essential services to help our residents address the needs in their lives to relieve stress and promote wellness during this very demanding time,” he said.

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