CURTIS GARDNER: We must advocate for Aurora police and fire in midst of pandemic

Health experts have talked for years about the “big one”, a global pandemic that has far-reaching consequences, both in loss of life and economic devastation. While much remains unknown about the COVID-19 pandemic or what the ultimate results will be, it is clear we will suffer major loss of life and experience significant economic damage.

Unfortunately, police officers and fire fighters in Aurora will be on the front lines of this virus. While many of us can work from home, the men and women of the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue continue to do their jobs — respond to calls, protect our residents and not shy away from the challenges they are faced with.

As a City Council member in Aurora, I believe it is important to go to bat for these men and women — they need a champion and I consider it an honor to advocate on their behalf. Not only do our first responders risk infection when they respond to a call for service, they have the added stress of bringing that infection home to their loved ones.

These are the questions I am asking:

• Do our first responders have access to testing at the first sign of symptoms?

• Have we exhausted all options to ensure our first responders have the PPE they need?

• Do we have the appropriate sick leave policies to make sure our first responders feel empowered to be absent from work if they are feeling ill?

• Have we developed preparedness plans if we see a future spike or second wave in COVID cases, as many health experts predict?

Aren’t these the questions you want to your elected representatives to be asking when it comes to protecting our first responders?

As we enter a critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure we exhaust every option to provide the appropriate resources to our first responders. Unfortunately, we know we already have positive tests in both agencies. We also know we have first responders in quarantine communicating with their families through the front doors of their homes. More than ever, we need to be aggressive on behalf of APD and AFR to chase down resources that might exist. While this is a national problem, my job is work on behalf of public safety in Aurora.

Do you have disinfectant wipes or other products you could donate so our Police Officers aren’t mixing their own cleaning solution? Are you sewing masks at home and have some you could donate to protect a firefighter? Do you work for a company that has PPE or disinfectant products that could be donated to our first responders?

I have spoken directly to police officers and firefighters because I wanted to hear their concerns. I communicated to them how appreciative Aurora residents are for the work they are doing, every day. I have also let them know I am 100% committed to making sure they have a voice & a champion. It’s the least I can do.

Curtis Gardner is an at-large Councilmember for the City of Aurora.

— Curtis Gardner, via [email protected]