During the COVID-19 pandemic, public employees across the nation have given back to their communities in extraordinary ways. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have been on the front lines.  

Here are stories of public employees in service to their communities.

Kansas firefighters go west to fight fires, and COVID-19 by Debra Skodack. Firefighters from Johnson County, Kansas have gone above and beyond during this year’s drastic influx of wildfires across the western United States. While fighting wildfires, they are also fighting potential COVID-19 infections. This year, neighboring state Colorado faced the largest fire in its history. Adam Robinson, a captain with Fire District #1 in Johnson County, as well as thousands of other firefighters from around the nation, rose to the occasion to help out. Robinson commented, “Keeping a crew healthy and safe for that amount of time, while you are working in those kinds of conditions, is challenging. We just have to be as diligent as we possibly can.  It’s just the same as back home. We clean the fire trucks. We wear masks. We wash our hands as often as possible. We are used to being out and in dangerous situations. Those are the kind of things we signed up for. Those are the things we go out and handle. But when you add in an extra element of danger, it’s a whole different thought process. It’s not ideal, but the job still needs to be done.”

Local teacher continues to donate convalescent plasma to help during coronavirus pandemic by Priscilla Casper. Jane Locke, a fifth-grade teacher in Tucson, Arizona, who has been teaching for 40 years, is giving back to her community by donating as much convalescent plasma as possible. Locke recovered from COVID-19 earlier this year. Casper reports that, according to the American Red Cross, convalescent plasma contains antibodies that are critical in fighting the coronavirus. Locke commented, “Everybody should be donating right now. I think there is too much we still don’t know about this disease and we have entirely too many Americans who have died. We need to find out and the only way we can do that is by studying the blood of people who have had it.”

Ulster BOCES grad Gerrit Blauvelt works as paramedic field supervisor during pandemic by the Daily Freeman. The Daily Freeman of New York highlighted one of their hometown heroes this week. Gerrit Blauvelt, who is a paramedic field supervisor in Wallkill, has been on the front lines during the pandemic. The Freeman reports that he has been doubling up on the masks and gloves he wears and practicing social distancing when he goes home to his wife and two children. Blauvelt commented, “There is some fear and anxiety because of so many unknowns, but this is our time to shine and take care of our patients. I have seen the healthcare industry as a whole step up to the plate and workers put their own safety aside for their patients.”

Be sure to check back next week for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!