When an emergency happens, first responders are individuals with specialized training who are among the first to arrive and provide assistance. Their response has been no different for the global pandemic.

Cisco has always supported nonprofits working to help first responders. Since March, we’ve provided additional funding to four strategic nonprofit partners that are working to ensure that first responders have the support and supplies they need. Here is how they are taking action:

First Responders First logoThis is an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation to support U.S. healthcare workers battling COVID-19. As our courageous frontline healthcare workers are helping to fight this global pandemic, their health is at risk because of shortages of PPE, including gowns, gloves, and masks. #FirstRespondersFirst, in partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, has launched a fundraising call to action to help address these needs. Donations to #FirstRespondersFirst will provide essential supplies, equipment, accommodations, child care, food, mental health support, and other resources for protecting frontline healthcare workers and their patients. Cisco’s commitment will support daycare for the children of healthcare workers and first responders at Bright Horizons facilities in Birmingham, Alabama; Dallas, Texas; Cary, North Carolina; and on Cisco’s campus in San Jose, California.


First Responders Children’s Foundation logoFirst Responders Children’s Foundation provides financial support to both children who have lost a parent in the line of duty as well as families enduring significant financial hardships due to tragic circumstances. They are on the front lines of the pandemic in every community across the United States, risking their lives to help others. First Responders Children’s Foundation has set up a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to provide support for first responders and their families who are enduring financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak. Cisco’s support will help first responders such as EMTs, firefighters, police officers, and other public safety agency personnel and their families with financial assistance.


Direct Relief logoDirect Relief is a humanitarian aid organization with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies. They are currently working with public health authorities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to provide personal protective equipment and essential medical items to health workers. In the United States, they are delivering protective masks, exam gloves, and isolation gowns to health care organizations with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Their COVID-19 Response Fund for Community Health supports community health centers, free and charitable clinics and pharmacies, and other non-profit health providers in Direct Relief’s partner network.


Americares logoAmericares is a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing medicine, medical supplies, and health programs. Their response to the global pandemic focuses on ensuring that frontline healthcare workers can stay safe and continue to do their life-saving work. They are delivering protective supplies like masks, gowns, gloves, and disinfectants, as well as leading support groups and skill-building workshops for health workers in COVID-19 hot spots. In the U.S. alone, Americares has delivered 25 tons of protective supplies to health facilities in 40 states. The supplies include more than 1.4 million protective masks to frontline health workers in locations that are experiencing a shortage. Americares also operates a COVID-19 training and technical assistance program for health providers on infection prevention and control and mental health and psychosocial support for health clinics both in and outside the US.

Important Resources

First responders are on the frontlines and cannot practice social distancing, so they must have the right personal protective equipment (PPE). Having the right PPE will help minimize the spread of the disease and protect frontline workers and their families from infection. PPE includes gloves, surgical masks, N95 respirators, eye protection, face shields, gowns and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the shortages of personal protective equipment are “posing a tremendous challenge to the U.S. healthcare system.”

Since this pandemic is so widespread, the demands on first responders can be overwhelming. Exhaustion, the stress of not having the proper PPE, spending a lot of time away from family members, and having fewer child care options, have taken a tremendous toll on these heroes. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a survey study of healthcare workers who treated patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China reported higher rates of symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress.

How you can help first responders

The most crucial action you can take to help first responders is by practicing social distancing to help stop the spread of the disease. By doing so, you are protecting yourself, the most vulnerable members of the community, and first responders who come in contact with those who are ill.

Additionally, if you can, please consider donating to the nonprofits listed above to help with the purchase of PPE and to help give financial relief to our first responders.

Learn more about Cisco’s COVID-19 response.



Erin Connor

Director, Cisco Crisis Response

Social Impact Office