Not all Heroes Wear Capes — How to Celebrate Our Front-Line Heroes on National First Responders Day


AdobeStock / Kzenon

Profile Picture
AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
April 13, 2024 at 3:46PM UTC
National First Responders Day is a national holiday to recognize first responders in the country — firefighters, police officers, lifeguards and more. 
Who are the first responders we celebrate on First Respondes Day?
They're the police officers, the firefighters, the medical aid and more who provide assistance at the scene of emergencies, such as accidents, natural disasters or terrorist attacks.
"These are the men and women who make it their business to take action when disaster strikes," writes National Today. "Not sure what a first responder does? Just think about 9/11 for a moment. That’s really all you need to know. They’re also on the scene of fires, car crashes, hurricanes and school shootings. Whether you’ve had your own emergency or not, chances are you’ve caught a glimpse of the dangerous and difficult work they do. National First Responders Day takes place on October 28 — a day to show gratitude to these everyday heroes."

When is National First Responders Day?

Again, National First Responders Day takes place on October 28th every year. For the next seven years, here are the days of the week for National First Responders Day:
  • Monday, 2019
  • Wednesday, 2020
  • Thursday, 2021
  • Friday, 2022
  • Saturday, 2023
  • Monday, 2024
  • Tuesday, 2025

History of the holiday

Colorado made National First Responders Day official on September 27, 2017. The state approved a bill honoring every first responder. 
Then, on May 18, 2017, Congress officially designated October 28th as National First Responders Day. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Cotton, along with Representatives Mark Meadows, Michael Capuano and Elijah Cummings, introduced a resolution to establish National First Responders Day.
"The resolution was passed to honor the firefighters, police officers, EMTs and all those who are first on the scene in stressful situations," according to Art International. "The family of Sean Collier, a police officer ambushed and murdered during events related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, supported the resolution."
Andrew Collier, Sean Collier's brother, helped to establish the day of recognition for brave first responders like his brother.

5 reasons why our first responders deserve recognition

The reasons why our first responders deserve recognition are endless. Here are just five reasons to celebrate them on National First Responders Day.

1. They risk their lives.

First responders are the first ones to respond to a crisis. They're the first people on the scene. They're the guinee pigs. This means that they risk their lives to keep us all safe and save the lives of others. They courageously put others before themselves.

2. Many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Many first responders suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the horrific experiences they've endured on the frontlines.
In fact, "police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel pay a high price for their prompt response to the needs of others," according to Art International.
"A University of Phoenix survey revealed that their rate of post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is approximately 10 times as high as in the civilian population. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg when the full consequences of their high-stress careers are examined." Here are some other alarming statistics, according to Art International:
  • 85% of first responders report experiencing symptoms associated with mental health issues
  • 34% of first responders have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder
  • More than 90% of first responders are consistently exposed to traumatic events
In fact, another study from the Ruderman Family Foundation found that more police officers and firefighters actually died from suicide than in the line of duty in 2017. 
  • Firefighters: 103 suicides, compared to 93 killed in the line of duty
  • Police officers: 140 suicides, compared to 129 killed in the line of duty
What's more, first responders are afraid to speak up about mental illness in their workplaces. According to Art International:
  • 55% of first responders fear they will be treated differently at work by their supervisor if they discuss their mental health problems
  • 45% of first responders say they’ll be considered “weak” by coworkers
  • 34% of first responders believe they would be denied promotions if they report PTS or related mental health issues
Recognizing their bravery and the ensuing mental health effects is important every single day, not only on National First Responders Day.

3. They keep our communities safe.

First responders keep our communities safe by putting themselves out there in rings of fire. First responders are, of course, the first ones on the scene, and that's no easy job.

4. They save lives.

First responders put others' lives before their own. They deserve infinite respect for the work that they do to save lives every day.

5 activities to thank first responders on National First Responders Day

There are tons of ways to show your appreciation to first responders on National First Responders Day. Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Send a thank-you letter (or say thank you in passing).

Send a thank-you letter to your local police or fire department. Maybe even send flowers or a gift card with the note to show them that you truly appreciate their work and courage.
You should also say thank you in passing. If you see a police officer, a firefighter, a medical aid worker or someone else on a first response team, it never hurts to thank them for their services. It especially doesn't hurt to do it on National First Responders Day.

2. Donate to a cause support the mental health of first responders.

Donate to a cause that helps first responders struggling with mental health issues. One great one is Companions for Heroes, for example, which pairs first responders with fury friends.

3. Donate to a cause supporting all first responders.

Don’t miss out on articles like these. Sign up!

AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog,, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always