Nonfiction Superheros Among Us


Joanne Dunderdale

Cards full of positivity and gratitude cover the walls of the break room at Lutheran General Hospital and motivate the nurses and doctors each day.

Rosie Talaga, Writer

In every superhero movie, there is some sort of evil that strikes, and, while everyone else runs away, the superheroes run against the crowd, always being the very first to respond.

It is for that same reason that doctors, police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, military personnel, and all others with specialized training to provide assistance at the scene of an emergency are called first responders. They are the nonfiction superheroes who are the very first to arrive at the scene, just moments after we cry for help. The “evil” in our world today is the Covid-19 Pandemic that has been affecting nearly every person worldwide, but, just like any other Marvel movie, the superheroes are coming to the rescue.

Just as superheroes do not have days off, first responders are some of the only workers that cannot put their job on hold or take their work from home. Katie Anello, an Evidence Technician assigned to the Chicago Police Department firearms lab, said that there were about six people in her unit that have tested positive for the virus, and the first police officer to pass from the virus worked in her building.

Instead of using these discouraging facts as an excuse to stay home, she expresses her selflessness and gratitude, like a real hero, by saying, “my main concern at this time is making sure my entire family stays safe and healthy… fortunately, I still get to go to work.”

Katie’s husband, Phillip Anello, is a Lieutenant for the Chicago Fire Department, and he shares a similar sense of bravery when he speaks of the pandemic. “I stay positive because I know this will pass,” he says. “I take Covid-19 seriously, and we all need to protect ourselves. However, my concerns are that the media and the government are scaring Americans into believing that our lives will never go back to normal. We will now have a new normal.”

Phillip says that he makes an effort to emphasize to his family, especially his two kids, that they will be all right, and that they will get through this together.

He also feels a sense of coming together on a communal level and says, “The community has been unbelievably supportive.” He finishes, like a humble hero, by saying, “The nurses and doctors are the true heroes… firefighters and police officers are exposed but not as much as those who work in the hospitals.”

Joanne Dunderdale is a nurse who works in the emergency room and ICU at Lutheran General Hospital. Nurses are often the only people allowed in a patient’s room at a time, because doctors are mostly doing telemedicine outside the room or using their phones to talk to the patient. Although nurses have been thoughtfully slowing down to ensure that they are doing everything in their control to stay safe, they are still fearlessly putting themselves in the line of fire, which has inevitably led to some of them contracting the virus.

“I think I know 12 people personally (working at the hospital) that have tested positive,” she says, “Quite honestly, I think it is encouraging. I do not want to negate the detrimental effects of Covid, because it’s obviously lethal but… there are lots of people who have gotten it, struggled, survived, and are dying to get back to work!”

First responders show bravery by running towards the evil every day, but they show their heroism when they are knocked down by this evil, get back up, and keep running. The community has been giving these nonfiction heroes their well-deserved thanks and praise by dropping off masks, gowns, hundreds of meals with individual notes on each one, and even girl scout cookies from a local troop in Park Ridge.

“In the end, people come together,” Dunderdale says, “While we don’t like these things, it is what brings us together in many ways.”