The La Porte County Fire Chief’s Association sparked an effort on Thursday to honor Franciscan Health and La Porte Hospital healthcare workers in a parade of lights, sirens, horns, cookies, and applause. Twenty-six different first responder departments, including fire, EMS, sheriff, police, 911 dispatchers, and more throughout La Porte County participated in the grand gesture.
“The health care workers in La Porte County and across the country don’t get the recognition and appreciation they deserve,” said Randy Novak, Chairman of the La Porte County Fire Chief’s Association. “This was a very small way of showing how much we appreciate them because we are all in this together.”
The parade began when rigs and vehicles filled the parking lot at Franciscan Health in Michigan City. President and CEO Dean Mazzoni was simply in awe by the outpouring of love as hospital staff and first responders alike were bright with smiles and cheer.
“The outpour of support from the community has been incredible,” Mazzoni said. “And to have our staff recognized by law enforcement and fire, who are also on the front lines keeping us safe, is especially poignant.”
As the parade rolled into La Porte Hospital, CEO Ashley Dickinson and her staff had a surprise waiting for the first responders, holding up signs of thanks and solidarity as each vehicle drove by. The La Porte community even joined in blaring their horns to honor everyone as they passed down Lincolnway.
“We are honored and humbled that the first responders in our county have shown up to support us, and we want them to know that we have so much respect for all of our first responders who join us on the front lines to keep our community safe and healthy,” Dickinson said. “We are all in this together and appreciate their dedication, commitment, and solidarity at this time.”
According to Andy Snyder, La Porte City Fire Chief and Vice Chair of the La Porte County Fire Chief’s Association, all of this was thanks to Eric Haverstock, the Fire Chief’s Association’s Secretary/Treasurer, who proposed the idea. Haverstock and many first responders felt that while they might see COVID-19 patients on the initial response, their part is minimal and the hospital caregivers are the ones who deserve all of the support during this time.
“By our very nature of being firefighters, we look to help and support others, but in this case due to the isolation aspect, we can’t just stop in and say, ‘we’re here for you, and we’re thinking of you,’” Snyder said. “We hope a small collective show of support while following social distancing guidelines can send the message of, ‘We’re thinking of you, and we appreciate everything you are doing, now and always.’”
A huge shoutout goes to all of the participating first responders:
Michigan City Fire Department, Michigan City Police, La Porte City Fire Department, La Porte City Police, La Porte County Sheriff, La Porte County Hazmat, La Porte County EMS, La Porte County EMA, La Porte County 911, Center Township Fire Rescue, Coolspring Volunteer Fire Department, Springfield Township Volunteer Fire Department, Michiana Shores Volunteer Fire Department, Long Beach Fire Department; Scipio Township Volunteer Fire Department, Kingsford Union Fire Department, Kankakee Township Fire Department, Cass Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, La Crosse Volunteer Fire Department, Hanna Township Fire & Rescue, Lincoln Township Fire Department; Westville Fire Department, Noble Township Volunteer Fire Department, Trail Creek Police, Long Beach Police, and Med Flight.