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Helping others on “the worst day of their life” – Braintree firefighter opens up about life as an emergency responder.

A firefighter from Braintree has opened up about the emotional strain that comes with working in the fire and rescue service.

“Incidents can escalate rapidly and being responsible for the safety and welfare of crews and the public is a big responsibility” said Jonathan, who has worked for the fire brigade, “making sure everyone goes home safely is a lot to tackle in the pouring rain at 3am!”

Reflecting on his experience working as a frontline emergency responder, the 37-year-old said “the job exposes you to a wide range of human emotions and one of the biggest challenges is trying to help people who have literally lost everything.”

“In my job, I have to deal with a hundred things all at the same time, and prioritising to make sure everyone is safe is a heavy responsibility to bear. Sometimes it's hard to admit that I’ve done everything I possibly could, but still couldn't achieve what was needed to make a difference.”

“But no matter how difficult the job gets; I find it is so rewarding being able to help people on what is the worst day of their life.”

Jonathan was speaking out about his experiences as part of Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign, which aims to thank the NHS and Emergency Service Workers for the extraordinary work they do, by donating another £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery.

He describes the surgery as nothing short of life-changing: “Now I'm no longer constrained by my glasses or lenses, and I don’t have to plan for every eventuality with my unpredictable job. Any hour of the day or night, my vision is crystal clear, and I can go out to work without any issues!”

“I put my face mask on at a fire scene the other day and for the first time I was able to wear it without worry, and I was able to see what I was doing! The relief and freedom I felt was amazing, it was such a simple thing but the power the surgery has given me to live without worry is fantastic.”

David Moulsdale, Chairman and CEO of Optical Express, said: “Our ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign was created to give hardworking frontline workers the thanks that they deserve.

“We launched it to give back to the people who keep us safe, and to show the nation’s appreciation for the sacrifices they make daily. Much of their work goes unnoticed so it gives us great pride to highlight their remarkable efforts and to be able to give them something in return with Thanks a Million.”

It is the second time that Optical Express has chosen to thank the NHS and Emergency Service Workers in this way. Over the course of the two campaigns, £2 million worth of laser eye surgery has improved the lives of Emergency Service workers. Since Optical Express was founded 33 years ago, the team are proud to have supported hundreds of humanitarian and philanthropic projects, donating over £33 million to worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad. By the end of this year it will be over £34 million.