GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - They respond to numerous cries for help and make those split-second decisions that can save lives. On Tuesday, more than a dozen first responders from Hancock and Harrison Counties were honored for going above and beyond to serve their communities. Meet the men and women who are being hailed as heroes.
In April, Gulfport police officer Luis Garcia calmly talked with a man and saved him from ending his life on the Kremer Bridge. On Tuesday, Garcia was among 14-first responders who were honored at an AMR luncheon for a job well done.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said those men and women have answered a special calling.
"Each day, you have a rare opportunity of being able to respond to times of tragedy and make a difference. We know why you are here. God sent you to save others," he said.
Most of the award recipients responded to medical emergencies. Paramedic Heather Miller was recognized for resuscitating five people this year who were victims of cardiac arrest.
"You feel like you've done it over the years and you've saved many, many lives. It's good to be recognized sometimes and be thanked," said Miller.
Although they were hailed as heroes, the honorees said they were just doing what they love.
"I'm somewhat humbled, but it's very unique to be able to be recognized for something that we do day in and day out," said Gulfport Firefighter David Faul.
Perhaps the biggest reward was hearing from the people they helped save. In February, Billy White suffered multiple blood clots in his legs and lungs, while he was driving with his wife along the Industrial Seaway in Gulfport. White was getting out of the car when he suddenly passed out on the pavement. On Tuesday, the couple got to meet the dispatcher who took their 911 call.
"I'm just grateful that I had God and the paramedics and EMT people. They gave me another chance to be here. I owe them my life," said White.
"I just want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I just appreciate you all so much. God bless y'all," his wife, Antonnette White told the crowd.
"I've been doing this for about 14 years now and we don't consider ourselves heroes. We just consider it doing our jobs. So when we do get to meet people like that and hear the outcome is good, it feels really good," said Eric Hawsey with AMR.
There were other interesting stories, like a Harrison County firefighter who provided critical care to a newborn who was not breathing.
Two of the award recipients are not professional emergency responders. They work for the city of Diamondhead's Water Department, and they helped save a person who was in cardiac arrest.