Minnehaha Academy explosion rescuers honored for bravery

- Most, if not all first responders will tell you--no matter what happens--that they're just doing their job.

But, in certain instances we honor those who go above and beyond the call of duty.

When Minnehaha Academy suffered a natural gas explosion in early August, many of the officers and paramedics rushed in to help on a moment's notice--actions they were honored for Wednesday by the Hennepin County Attorney's office.

It's been nearly three months since that day, when some of the five police officers and three firefighters injured truly believed that they may lose their lives in the line of duty.

"We weren't going to leave him," Minneapolis Police Officer Vicki Karnik said. "[One of the victims] was in there. You don't second guess yourself--you go into action and do what you need to do."

Two staff members died in the explosion and nine other people were injured during the explosion, which occurred while crews were working on a gas main.

Alongside many whose lives they had saved, responders said the award ceremony showed that even with all the bad news and anger in the world today, some people are still willing to risk it all to help their fellow man.

"I'm kind of overwhelmed being in a room filled with supporters and those behind us," MPD Officer Dean Milner said. "They make our jobs easier."

The ceremony was a part of the Community Leadership Awards, at which former U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger was also recognized for bringing to justice the man who kidnapped and killed Jacob Wetterling and prosecuting Minnesota men trying to help terrorists overseas.

This year's other recipients included members of the Dream Big Attendance Campaign, which worked to improve the academic achievement of Native American students; Chester Cooper; the longtime Community Corrections director, Sarah Super, who started “Break the Silence,” which helps sexual assault survivors; and the 43 members of the county attorney’s victim services division that guides victims and witnesses through the process as their case goes through the legal system.

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