WARWICK, R.I. — Outside Kent Hospital Tuesday, the night glowed in shades of red and blue.
“All that really needs to be said is that we’re stronger together,” Justin Lake said of the impetus behind an event that saw police cruisers, fire trucks and rescue vehicles from all over Rhode Island gathered outside the hospital, their sirens singing and their lights flashing.
A patrolman with the West Warwick Police Department, Lake arranged the Light up the Night event to show thanks and solidarity to hospital staff working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Not only are we fighting it out here, in the houses and on the streets,” he said, “but they’re fighting it in the hospital everyday, day in and day out.”
First responders from North Kingstown, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Coventry, Scituate, Warwick, Cranston and the state police joined those from West Warwick for the parade. Along the sidewalks, onlookers in face masks stood waving to the first responders as they slowly made their way from Toll Gate High School to the hospital.
And when they got there, one cruiser after another filed into the parking lot; fire and rescue vehicles bearing the names of towns throughout Kent County and beyond lined Toll Gate Road.
“We just want to show our support to them,” Lake continued. “Together, we’ll be fine. We’ll get through this.”
Speaking on behalf of the hospital community, Robert J. Haffey, president and chief operating officer of Kent Hospital, thanked the first responders for the moving show of support.
“It was very obvious to me how much our staff appreciated the parade of first responders,” Haffey said Wednesday in an email. “The emotions were palpable.”
Tuesday’s display wasn’t only to show thanks for all the hospital staff is doing to fight the pandemic, however.
“They’ve done a lot for us throughout the years,” Lake said.
After apprehending someone who’s injured, for example, police know they can rely on the hospital’s doctors and nurses to see to those injuries, he said. And when officers get hurt, themselves, the hospital staff is always there to help.
“They try their best to assist us,” Lake said. “They’re always there for us, and this is our time to be there for them.”