PISCATAWAY, NJ -- First responders and healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic will be honored on April 30 as part of “Worldwide Day of Gratitude,” a global coming together through the arts organized by the student-run organization, YOUnison. 

“The effort put forth by the first responders and healthcare workers has been incredibly inspiring to so many around the world,” said Andrew E. Morrison, co-founder of YOUnison, a student-centered community empowering YOU to achieve musical excellence using self-directed learning, creativity and collaboration.

“To show our gratitude, teachers, students, and people of all ages can use the power of music and the arts to unite to honor these amazing heroes,” said Morrison.

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On this Worldwide Day of Gratitude, Piscataway resident and first responder, Jeena Patel shares her experience working on the front lines during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I am Jeena, and I would like to share my experience through this pandemic with you all. I am currently a Piscataway resident, a Rutgers undergraduate pre-med student, and a volunteer EMT at North Stelton Fire Company right here in Piscataway.

“As a first responder, I must say that it is hard. As a department lieutenant, I can say that my two partners and I on the EMS side work hard constantly, day and night to make sure our members are safe and that we are able to provide our town with the services they need during this hard time.

“The moment we get a call, we truly do not know what to expect and are often overwhelmed with tons of emotions. Feeling fear and worry for myself and my partner and feeling sorry for the family in need. Oftentimes, I feel guilty for not rushing into homes to help the ones in need because it takes about 5-10 minutes to properly wear all protective gear to keep myself safe. That's when my partner and I remind each other that there truly is no emergency in a pandemic.

“I would say the hardest part of my job as an EMT is seeing my patient’s family in a complete state of fear, worry, and anxiety. Hearing a family member say, “please take care of our precious soul, don't let anything happen to her” in the middle of transferring the patient onto the stretcher is what is emotionally heart breaking.

“We as first responders, have to put on a brave face for these family members who are putting all their trust in us. It is scary, and I am just as scared as anyone else, but this is my job. I am absolutely proud to be able to do this, and even more proud of all the front-line workers I see or work with on a daily basis such as our very own Piscataway police officers, dispatchers, firemen and EMTs.

“Stay home everyone and stay safe!”

To thank frontline heroes like Jeena Patel by participating in Worldwide Day of Gratitude, click here.

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