County First Responders Highlighted In COVID-19 ‘Essential Voices’ Documentary

Elizabeth Bustos
Elizabeth Bustos, who leads the County's Community and Faith-Based Organization Sector, appears in the Essential Voices video.

Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic would prove to challenge the San Diego emergency response community in an unprecedented way, local producer Dave Meyer set about documenting individual experiences.

Along with his co-collaborator and wife, Karen, Meyer began filming in spring 2020, chronicling in highly personal interviews, the toll, responsibilities, and hopes of a wide variety of first responders.

“These people wanted to help their community, they had become part of small and large teams all focused on that goal,” Meyer says. “They’d say, ‘please tell people what I am doing and what we’re seeing every day.’”

While the project remains ongoing, to date 19 individual interview vignettes have aired on KPBS, and the full-length documentary is now being shown on County News Center TV. Individual interviews and the full-length Essential Voices documentary can be viewed at

County first responders interviewed in the Dave Meyer Design production include Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione, Integrative Services Director Omar Passons, Chief Nursing Officer Denise Foster and Community Development Liaison Elizabeth Bustos.

Essential Voices is running at 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday through April 30 on County News Center TV, which can be found on Cox Communications Channel 24 in the south county, 19 in the north, as well as Spectrum (Time Warner) 24 or 85.