It’s hard to avoid negativity when you feel like your chosen profession is under constant attack by those you’ve spent your entire career trying to protect. I, and many other first responders, have succumbed to the temptation of negativity over the past few years. It often feels like there are few advocates for emergency responders, but I know one person who is doing her best to prove that we are also human beings … my sister Kathy.
Kathy Sukus—A Dedicated Public Servant
At the age of 19, my sister worked as a dispatcher at the Beloit, Wisconsin, police department, and it was that exposure to the culture that really planted the seed for my own future career in law enforcement: It showed me that officers were human beings. Their stories had varied themes ranging from comedy to tragedy to compassion and sacrifice, and they spoke directly to my heart. It was inevitable that I would become a police officer because I understand that first responders are normal people who perform extraordinary tasks.
My sister has dedicated her entire adult life to her career, and eventually rose to the very top! She is the head of Rock County Wisconsin’s Communication Center. Hopefully they are as proud as I am of her for the work she is doing to improve community relations. My sister used her talents to shed light on the human side of first responders through a fun and goofy lip-dub video to the song “Uptown Funk,” by Mark Bronson and Bruno Mars, which has gone viral. At the time of this writing, has racked up 2,300,000 views in one month! It has been seen around the world, and the outpouring of support has been amazing.
The Video’s Purpose and Impact
I don’t ever do this, but as a Wisconsin native and former public servant…I was moved to reach out to you when I saw your Rock County First responder’s “Uptown Funk” video, which—I’m sure you know—has gone viral. I hope you’ll share my comments with your personnel, as that video spoke to me.
I served more than 27 years on active duty. During that time, I worked with some of the best human beings I would ever have the privilege to know in my lifetime. I got the chance to do things that a young man with my lack of social position and similar lack of education would otherwise never get the chance to do. I was also led to courageously face some pretty heinous situations in places I would otherwise never have gone. I saw things that a person should never have to see. Despite all that, I always had a special admiration for first responders and the special challenges you all face from day to day—which I regarded more troublesome than anything I ever did. I was conscious of this from a very young age. I’m only sorry it took me this long to say something about it.
Despite the apparent “dangers” of my former profession, I always had a few comforts that you don’t:
First, I always knew when I was headed into harm’s way. There were times I could relax and times I knew that survival meant I had to walk the razor’s edge of vigilance—you all don’t have that luxury. Even the most routine call can suddenly claim a life. You have my sincere admiration for that.
Secondly, I knew that no matter how bad a particular mission or deployment might be, I was going to go home eventually (one way or another). You all endure day-to-day, knowing that “tomorrow” will (very likely) not be terribly different from “today.” It takes a special brand of faith to face what must (at times) be so discouraging to your operators who see the worst that humanity can do to each other every day, day in and day out. Thank you for facing that on our behalf.
Finally, no matter how bad a particular job might be, I knew I did it with the approval, admiration and appreciation of my countrymen. Our society has degenerated to such a degree that many who are served most by your services are suspicious of you, and distrustful of your very best and dedicated efforts to serve them. I mourn this for your sakes, and so deeply admire you for the courage and faith it takes to face those challenges every day.
So … thank you for the video, which demonstrates … your indomitable spirits and the optimism with which you quite necessarily approach each day. Please know that despite the challenges your personnel face, there are many of us who do thoroughly appreciate your service to our country and our society.
This video has been successful because it humanizes emergency responders and dispels the negativity. It represents the cohesion amongst first responders and is a positive and accurate representation of the emergency responders I know and love.