COON RAPIDS, Minn. - There was mutual respect at a ceremony in Coon Rapids Saturday honoring Twin Cities first responders who've been injured while on duty.
"They put their life on the line, too," said Mark Browne, Dept. Commander for the Military Order Purple Heart of Minnesota. "It's important for the community to know what police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics do."
Seven individuals were awarded National First Responder Citations, a civilian honor from Purple Heart recipients.
Five Minneapolis fire fighters were honored for their efforts during the Walker Church fire in May. All of them were badly burned after a flashover engulfed them while searching the building.
"The fire suddenly hit," said Capt. Kathrynne Baumtrog. "It's expected in our job, but to have fire envelope you is something each person has to deal with individually. All I can say is I'm alive today with God's grace and because of my training."
The honor was especially heartfelt knowing it came from veterans who've also been wounded.
"I appreciate their respect," said Minneapolis fire fighter Christie Nixon. "Giving us the civilian version of the Purple Heart is huge."
Officer Katie Hammes was also recognized for her bravery during an incident in August in which a man stabbed her in the shoulder.
"It makes you realize that it could've been a different outcome," she says. "But I'd do it again if I had too."
Corrections officer David Schiebel and Officer Mike Helman with the Maple Grove Police Department were also given awards.
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