Taking A Knife To A Gunfight

In the olden days before Covid-19, my extended family would get together once or twice a year to just catch up with each other in person. These gatherings would consist of at least 40-50 people, all of whom were linked to my now passed parents.

There were groups within this tribal gathering. One large group was relatives who had a law enforcement background. One of my brothers is a retired police officer who no doubt inspired younger family members to consider a career in law enforcement. We have police officers and deputy sheriffs as well as younger college age family members preparing for a career in law enforcement. We even have a retired Superior Court judge in this cohort.

Inevitably the law enforcement tribe will get together at these gatherings to discuss topics of interest. I am not sure what the discussion subjects are. Favorite donut shops? Whatever, our extended family is proud of these relatives dedicated to protecting and helping all citizens, especially in these trying times. These relatives risk their lives everyday for all of us.

There is another tribe in the family. These are relatives who have a connection to heathcare. Even though I am now well establshed on the beach I proudly include myself in this tribe. We have nurses in the family, a pharmacist and a number of others who are not clinicians but work in healthcare. Being in a helping profession is a source of pride for these tribe members even with the personal risk associated with the pandemic.

A final smaller tribe in the family is that of the educators. Always under appreciated, teachers today are in the midst of controversy surrounding when it will be safe to reopen schools. When schools finally reopen completely, another group of public servants will be taking risks for the rest of us.

The risks my extended family members face became even more real recently when I learned that one of my police officer relatives was sent home from work because of possible exposure to Covid-19. He is now living apart from his family waiting for testing.

Police work involves working with others on a daily basis. There was another officer with whom my relative works who received a phone call from his wife, an ER nurse. The nurse had tested positive for Covid. Immediately, the husband as well as other officers who had been in contact with him were told to isolate. A large number of officers were removed from duty. The husband subsequently began exhibiting possible Covid symptoms.

Hopefully, this story will have a good ending. It’s too soon to tell what the outcome will be. The story does show how this virus can spread even when precautions are taken. My family member who takes his job to protect the public very seriously now finds himself at risk.

The dangers healthcare workers and first responders face everyday remind me of the movie “The Untouchables”. The film contains a memorable bit of advice given by a grizzled G-man (Sean Connery) to a somewhat naive Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) who is trying to rid Chicago of gangsters:

“You wanna know how you do it? Here’s how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun.”

It seems right now that our front-line helpers are in the same position as those many years ago who were trying to eradicate Chicago of gangsters.

I have read that some people are saying that those among us who are on the front lines of dealing with this vicious virus should be given some kind of medal for the risks they take for the rest of us. I certainly agree that when this is all behind us some form of recognition is due because right now we are sending our helpers to a gunfight armed with a knife.