Growing up, my next door neighbor was a Boston firefighter. Like many kids, I was inspired by heroic portrayals of firefighters battling flames and carrying people to safety. What affected me most, however, was watching my neighbor leave his house every morning, prepared to help those in need. This dedication to helping others stuck with me.
It’s been twenty years since I first joined the fire department, and I’ve served as an on-call firefighter ever since. I’ve worked alongside EMTs, police officers, and community volunteers who on a daily basis are answering the call for help. While the newsworthy crises are part of the job, it’s also the less recognized, everyday moments—from replacing batteries in an elderly resident's smoke alarm to calming a child after an allergic reaction—that are essential elements of this work.
Today we’re recognizing our nation’s first responders for all the ways they dedicate their lives to helping others. A challenging, but often unrecognized, aspect of this work is the preparation required ahead of potential disasters. Therefore, Google.org is giving a $1 million grant to Team Rubicon to build out teams of volunteers, most of them military veterans, who will work alongside first responders to build out disaster preparedness operations.
Jake Wood, co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon, explains the impact of this grant: "This funding enables us to build disaster preparedness in cities across the U.S. so we can mobilize to help others on their worst day. This includes everything from training in critical skill sets such as damage assessment, roof-tarping and chainsaw operations to incident command and leadership development—all so we can better serve our communities and neighbors affected by disaster."
Investing in preparedness is a key priority for Google.org as studies have shown that for every $1 spent on preparedness, approximately $6 are saved in the post-disaster recovery. Through this Team Rubicon grant and Google’s continued Crisis Response efforts, we aim to support the work of first responders and the strength of their communities.
The work of Team Rubicon is close to my heart. Some of my closest friends and colleagues have been volunteering with them for many years and I’m grateful to be a part of supporting the incredible work they’re doing. Working within the first responder community has been one of the most meaningful aspects of my life. I continue to be inspired by the everyday selflessness of those I get the chance to work with. On behalf of Google, I want to say “thank you first responders for your daily dedication to help.”