A sign at a post office honors the heroes that work there. Customers placed it there. There should be other signs.
These are really crazy times. There hasn’t been a global pandemic in more than 100 years, and, outside of world wars, the world’s economy has never been shut down like the last four months. We have likely not yet seen the worst of the economic suffering. There is no manual on how to operate a business or our personal lives through a crisis like this.
Even with the shutdowns, shut-ins and shelter-in-place orders, essential services have to carry on every day and, at times, every minute of every day. The heroic efforts of nurses and doctors were seen every day as they fought to save the lives of COVID patients while New York hospitals were overrun with cases. Likewise, nurses and doctors in Florida and every other hospital in most of the world continue to respond with courage to treat and save the lives of COVID victims. Those efforts have been less publicized but are no less real and apparent.
Nursing homes have been ravaged by COVID outbreaks. At one point, more than 50% of the COVID deaths in New Jersey originated in nursing homes. Nursing home staff are truly heroic going to work every day, knowing the virus is in the facility yet putting their own safety at risk by caring for the patients. Many workers have contracted the virus. They could have easily just stayed at home and avoided the exposure. They are COVID heroes.
Pharmacy workers, too, meet the public and dispense medicines to the families of COVID victims. Some of those customers have been exposed to the virus and have the potential to pass it on to pharmacy workers as their prescriptions are filled. Those workers accept the risk of exposure to help their customers cope with their illnesses. They could just stay home, but they don’t. They are COVID heroes.
There are so many others. The postal workers mentioned earlier deliver the mail. Grocery workers keep shelves stocked. Waiters and waitresses serve our food if we eat out. Hardware store workers and other retail workers are exposed to so many people each day. We could go on. There are so many more. If you look around, you will see many COVID heroes working every day to perform essential services so our lives can continue at some level of normalcy.
This brings us to the employees of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative and West Florida Electric Cooperative. It is difficult to understand the complexity of electric service or the electric grid. Electric service is instantaneous, moving at the speed of light. Reliable service requires skilled people to monitor and control the system at all times. Power plant workers are required to operate generation plants around the clock. The transmission grid requires constant monitoring to prevent overloads in peak periods or from outages. Transmission and distribution lines have to be repaired when they are damaged or fail. Bills have to be processed and paid, and administrative duties have to be handled.
PowerSouth’s and West Florida Electrics employees from various departments are vital to the day-to-day operations of the cooperative in its efforts to provide reliable electric service to its members. These employees have worked through the COVID crisis, exposing themselves to the risk of infection to do their job and keep electric service available.
Two storms on back-to-back weekends in April damaged parts of PowerSouth’s transmission system and large parts of WFEC’s system, too. These employees responded quickly in the storms to repair damage and restore electric service. It would have been easy for them to just stay home and avoid exposure in the public to protect themselves and their families, but they went to work and repaired the systems as quickly as possible.
We have all learned from this experience. We have learned more about the exposure risks and dangers of the virus. We have learned how to better protect ourselves, our families and our co-workers. When it all started, we heard about essential and non-essential employees. We heard how we needed to protect our essential workers so that essential services could continue. We have learned that there are many more essential services and essential workers than we ever imagined. The longer we are in the pandemic, the more services we find are essential. We should all be thankful that people are willing to put themselves at risk to provide those services.
We have realized how good PowerSouth Energy Cooperative’s & West Florida Electric’s people are. They have done whatever was needed or asked of them including changing routines and put themselves at risk of exposure to make sure their jobs were done. All without complaint. Heroes do work here