Margaret Willis

Over the past year, there have been many discussions and considerations of how we can help one another. The pandemic has given some of us a new realization for the importance of helping. We have new appreciation for many things including health care providers.

Repeatedly, nurses, doctors and other providers have been a big part of the focus and for good reason. They deserve the recognition as they are continually at risk while taking care of COVID patients. Other appreciated workers included are first responders, police, fire, and ambulance personnel. They are “first in” on medical and trauma situations where it is often an unknown as to whether there is a positive COVID patient or other threats.

Years before COVID, responders have been taught to use personal protection and to be prepared for the unexpected. “Be prepared and protect yourself” we learned but never thought too much about our mortality. There are risks other than COVID out there. Not that one thinks they are invincible, but people working in emergency services don’t think anything will happen to them. There is the kind of attitude that we are helping someone so we get an automatic pass. But sometimes it doesn’t happen. In 30 plus years of working on the ambulance, I was injured twice and saw some of my co-workers injured. We missed some work but gladly got back to our jobs as soon as possible. Why? Because, we love to help.

Recently the community experienced the loss of a paramedic who worked for Mille Lacs Health System and Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Ambulance Services. The paramedic died suddenly from a medical event after rendering care to a critical patient. He was the ultimate example of helping, giving his all for another person. Who thinks when you go to work one day trying to help someone else in distress that you would not come back from that? This is not just about a certain group of people.

But really, we are all special, each one of us can spend part of our day reaching out to help others. No matter our line of work or if we have a job at all, we can all do something to help each other.  Most of us can look back and see that we made a difference in that person’s life by helping them. Whether it be helping someone cross the street, shoveling a driveway, or visiting a lonely person. For each of us, reaching out to help is what is important.  

I think everyone loves to help, and it doesn’t matter on what level. With just the smallest effort, you can make someone’s life better.

Margaret Willis is the director of the Onamia Depot Library and works with local emergency services.

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