First responders ‘pay it forward,’ thank hospital workers

Published 9:40 am Saturday, April 11, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — Lights and sirens flooded the street around Novant Health Rowan Medical Center on Friday afternoon as local fire and police personnel drove in procession to thank and honor health care workers and staff.

Health care personnel and staff have been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 for several weeks. Salisbury Fire Department Division Chief Jay Baker said he’d seen the idea done in other communities starting with the New York City Fire Department and then locally in Mecklenburg County.

Baker said the department talked to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center President Gary Blabon, who was on board with the idea. Baker then talked to a few Salisbury City fire stations and the Salisbury Police Department to join the procession.

The procession, called a “Thank you Parade of Lights,” began on Mocksville Avenue and circled the facility. It ended with fire and police applauding and saluting healthcare workers who lined the street to watch and wave.

“It’s just so simple. We’ve been on the receiving end, police and fire. There’s no better time to pay it forward,” Baker said.

He said this was a way to show support to the medical staff and other healthcare workers.

“We participated to show our respect and solidarity with those, who along with our officers, are still at work no matter the risk to personal health and safety. We wanted them to know we appreciate their service to this community as well,” said Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes.

The health care workers and staff are the “true heroes” of this ordeal, said Salisbury police spokesman Lt. Lee Walker.

Walker said it was their pleasure to show support and, “give them the respect they deserve.”