Well done to those stepping up

Published 5:22 pm Monday, April 13, 2020

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In what has been one of the most challenging times for many of us across Shelby County, the spread of COVID-19 has also brought out the heroes.

From nurses and doctors to first responders and the every-day citizen stepping up to answer a call for action, many Shelby County residents are doing their part to not only help flatten the curve, but help those who are struggling most among this pandemic.

Every day of the week, healthcare workers and first responders are putting their lives on the line to help protect those who have the novel coronavirus and those who don’t.

As of Thursday, April 9, 363 healthcare workers had been confirmed cases of the virus, while 333 of the 2,547 infected statewide have been hospitalized since the spread started on Friday, March 13. There were also at least 76 longterm-care employees across the state who had contracted the virus.

Each of them ended up with COVID-19 because of their willingness to take care of others in a time of need.

Just because this pandemic is spreading, doesn’t mean other health emergencies aren’t happening, meaning the healthcare industry is stretched thin trying to combat this additional emergency.

But there is no complaining.

They signed up to save our lives and keep us healthy, but most have not experienced something like this. In a time of dyer need, they aren’t backing down from the challenge of putting their own lives at risk to protect each of us.

First responders are doing the same. Unaware of situations they are walking into when on a call, pulling someone over or handling a health situation, they are risking exposure every day. In addition to that, they’re having to enforce new stay-at-home orders and curfews.

Several local residents are also stepping up to do their part in helping the healthcare employees and first responders do their jobs safely with PPE supplies tough to come by.

Cooper Swindle, a 12-year-old Chelsea Middle School student, has been making face shields for doctors and nurses with his 3D printer.

He started doing so as part of a bigger volunteer program known as Bham Support, which was started by another Shelby County resident named John Olsen.

Olsen began the 3D printing operation a couple of weeks ago in his basement, and it has now grown to supply several local hospitals and medical care facilities with face shields for protection, which they previously struggled to find.

It’s a completely volunteer-based program that also features other local residents, as well as some who are doing it on their own.

Two other local residents, Wendy Chappell and Angela Roberson Reardon, are going out of their way as well.

Reardon, who has lupus and is at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, has been stitching masks at home to supply to those who need them, and says she has made approximately 500 of them so far.

Chappell, who works for at-home care company Kindred at Home, has been helping her company display signs across the Birmingham-metro area that read “Heroes Work Here,” including several at local healthcare facilities across Shelby County.

Those are just a handful of the many who are going out of their way to help or spread a message of cheer.

The people of Shelby County, during an extremely difficult time, have come together as one to fight this pandemic together. And for that, there aren’t enough thank yous to go around.