5 Characteristics of First Responders

Three first responders smile at the camera as they stand in front of an ambulance
Category: Industry Insights

By Brittany Fillmore
Posted on

In times of chaos and every day on the job, first responders are heroes who keep our communities safe, calm and protected from harm. Being a first responder takes a special kind of person.

Here are five characteristics we see in the firefighterspolice officers, emergency managers and EMS professionals that we have the honor of educating every day at Columbia Southern University.

1. They want to help.

Individuals who hold a volunteer spirit wake up every day to help others. They work long and hard hours, but they never complain. They see the ultimate good in their work. Whether they are on or off the clock, they cannot pass a dire situation and not try to help. They seek to make our communities and the world a better place.

2. They are committed to health.

Whether they are hauling 100 pounds of gear into a burning building, pulling individuals to safety, or doing chest compressions to save a life, first responders have to be ready for everything, physically and mentally. Instead of just hitting the gym for their own personal gain, first responders know that they need to stay in tiptop shape for themselves and the people they serve. They know that having the flu could cause their department to be one man down, and that is not the kind of risk they want to take.

3. They are flexible and adaptable.

During wildfires, firefighters may work for hours and sleep on the side of the road in between shifts. Police officers must be ready to act quickly no matter what their calls may bring. Emergency managers cannot control Mother Nature, but they must roll with the punches to offer safety with the resources that they are given. First responders are flexible and aim to provide the best of their services, no matter the situation.

4. They are eager to learn.

First responders must stay aware of the newest techniques and technologies to stay relevant in their field. This valuable information can save time and save lives when it counts. First responders network with others in their industries, enroll in continuing education courses, and earn secondary degrees to advance in their departments. First responders hope to stay on the cutting edge of their field to help their communities.

5. They are self-sacrificing.

Every day, first responders put their lives on the line for our communities. They sacrifice time with their families and the traditional hours of a 9-to-5 job to protect our citizens. They put themselves in the line of fire – sometimes literally – for others they barely know. First responders are never self-centered, and they put others before themselves.


First responders are the backbones of our communities, and we are honored to serve them every day through education. If you're interested in learning more about CSU’s degree programs in criminal justice, fire science, EMS administration or emergency services management, take the first steps by visiting ColumbiaSouthern.edu.