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Georgia first responders to receive $1k bonus for COVID-19 relief

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 4:15 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Million of dollars in federal COVID relief aid is on the way to the bank accounts of first responders in Georgia.

This week, Governor Brian Kemp ordered the funds to be distributed as $1,000 bonuses for all officers, deputies and emergency responders. $100 million dollars from Georgia’s federal COVID-19 fund will soon be distributed to first responders across the state.

“The bonus is great, but I don’t think people respond on the calls for that bonus, that’s what we want to do, we are here to serve the community and the bonus just shows our appreciation,” said Ed Cotton, Columbus Station 6 firefighter.

First responders have remained ready to serve throughout the pandemic, even it if means confronting a deadly virus.

“We average anywhere from ten to 15 calls a day. As of now 10 out of 10 it’s COVID related,” said Cotton. “When It really started spreading the fire department got hit really hard”

Care EMS Paramedic William Hughes recalls the difficulty of watching people in his community suffer.

“There were a lot of COVID-19 positive patients, watching a lot of people die from it and people figuring it out because a lot of people didn’t think it was real,” said Hughes

From early mornings, two day shifts and mandatory overtime, many first responders have sacrificed time away from their homes.

“It’s a feeling that I am starting to live at the station but um you kind of become somewhat of a family,” said Gary Lesolt, Care EMS paramedic.

The $1000 bonus also includes parole officers, prison and jail guards, and 911 dispatchers. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is also giving $300 bonuses to volunteer firefighters.

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