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‘A real sense of family’: Washington first responders support health care workers

Local first responders say support from the community has helped them navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, they passed that support on to Vidant Beaufort Hospital health care workers.

First responders from Washington Police and Fire Services and Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS lined up outside of the hospital’s main entrance to show appreciation for the hospital workers as they entered and exited the building.

Some of them held up supportive signs, and some of them passed out small gifts to the health care workers. All of them clapped and cheered as each worker passed by.

“We’ve had so many people in the past year support us,” said Police Sgt. William Bradbury. “We’ve had a lot of stuff donated to us, people telling us they really appreciate us. And it’s good to be able to give something back.

“They’re on the frontlines just like we are, if not more so, because they’re dealing with COVID-19 on a firsthand basis,” he added. “So it’s important for them to feel that they’re essential.”

Director of Police and Fire Services Stacy Drakeford said his department had been planning Wednesday’s event for about a week. Echoing some of Bradbury’s thoughts, Drakeford said “it’s important to give back what we’ve been given.”

The show of support was a surprise to the Vidant workers. Even with masks on, their smiles were evident.

City Manager Jonathan Russell and his family joined the first responders in showing support.

“It illustrates that we’re on the same team,” Russell said. “We care about our first responders and everybody who is working to fight the effects of COVID.

“It’s a real sense of family out here in the community. It’s good to see.”