Posted by: Aaron Wheeler, Amgen on Wednesday, November 24, 2021


On November 3rd, the Leadership Tampa ‘22 Class had the privilege of participating in the first ever “First Responders Day”. We began our morning at the historical Tampa Firefighters Museum. We were greeted and welcomed by three amazing women: Tampa’s Fire Rescue Chief Barbara Tripp, Major Anna Richardson of the Tampa Police Department, and Major Tiffanie Cole, the Division Commander for Jail Division I, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Each gave us a detailed overview of what their agency does to support the Tampa community, as well as how they selected their chosen careers.

The second half of our morning was kicked off by panel discussions. We had the opportunity to hear from our first line heroes who represented 911 dispatchers, the forensics lab, Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office, Fire & Rescue as well as other Emergency Management services. The panel enlightened us on the daily responsibilities of their jobs but more importantly the challenges they face and what we as citizens of Tampa can do to help them in the performance of their duties. They also covered emotional survival for First Responders, giving everyone a better appreciation of the sacrifices made by these outstanding professionals.

The second panel talked about “The Intersections and Trends of Criminal Justice.” Sheriff Chad Chronister, TPD interim Police Chief Ruben Delgado, Gary Weisman Chief of Staff from the Florida State Attorney’s Office, Ms. Julianne Holt from the Public Defender’s Office, and Ms. Samantha Ward of the 13th Judicial Circuit educated us on their roles in the city’s judicial system and offered ways we can help reduce crime, support emergency services, and the power of voting to make changes. 

The afternoon by far was one of the most exciting experiences. We were transported to the Tampa Police Department Training Facility and were welcomed by training staff from TPD & Fire Rescue. After classroom discussions about First Responder hiring and training practices & challenges in today’s climate, we received on the job training from Fire & Rescue and Police Academy instructors. Members of the TFR training staff & Corporal Jared Douds of the Tampa Police Department provided us with real-world scenarios and gave us the opportunity to experience what they do to prepare new recruits for a life in law enforcement and fire & rescue. The best part for most of us was the high-speed car chase and evasive driving techniques. Our day concluded with a thrilling demonstration by the SWAT team and Bomb squad.