Coronavirus: Jacksonville first responder discusses $1,000 bonuses for Florida first responders

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis announced $1,000 one-time bonuses for Florida’s first responders in a Wednesday news briefing.

“Supporting our law enforcement and first responders has been a top priority for my administration, and it has never been more important than over the last year. As a state, we are grateful for their continued service to our communities,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This one-time bonus is a small token of appreciation, but we can never go far enough to express our gratitude for their selflessness.”

JFRD Lieutenant Jamie Johnson is a husband, father of two girls.

Johnson, who’s been a first responder for 15 years and spent the last eight with JFRD, spoke to Action News Jax about the challenges of the pandemic.

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“I just spent a lot of time away from my family, as did a lot of firefighters. So, it takes its toll over time,” said Johnson. “That time away, it begins to take its effect on you and your family. That’s why you can measure time, you can’t replace it.”

More than 174,000 first responders are set to receive the bonuses after DeSantis signs the state’s budget.

Johnson says the gift is appreciated, but the state’s acknowledgement of first responders’ sacrifices means even more.

“Absolutely in this day in time, I think the money is phenomenal. That’s a great piece. But I think it’s the recognition from that level, from the state level down, to the people that were on the frontline when so much was unknown,” said Johnson. “The recognition of doing that is very appreciated, very appreciated.”

Florida’s $101.5 billion state budget including the bonuses was approved by the legislature last week but will not go into effect until after it’s signed into law by DeSantis.

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The governor has not yet said when he will sign it.

DeSantis’ office says the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has set aside $208 million for over 174,000 first responders across the state, including 49,405 sworn law enforcement officers, 40,732 EMTs, 35,811 firefighters and 33,185 paramedics in Florida.