Paramedics, firefighters and other first responders answer the call of duty every day and regularly save lives, but rarely receive recognition for their work.
But Florida Keys paramedics, firefighters and flight nurses and pilots were honored at Lower Keys Medical Center on Wednesday.
"What a wonderful group of people," said Meylan Lowe-Watler, the hospital's chief operating officer. "You guys are the first to reach patients at the most difficult time. You guys do a fantastic job. You guys are always there, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's not an easy job. It takes very special people to do the job you do."
The recognition came as the city of Key West proclaimed this "Emergency Services Week."
"Thank you for being the first friendly face," Florida Keys House Rep. Holly Raschein said at the ceremony.
The location was perfect for Raschein's comments, as she was instrumental this year in Lower Keys Medical Center securing an additional $825,000 a year in state reoccurring funding. The money is much needed, she said, adding that in 2012, the hospital racked up $42.8 million in "uncompensated" work.
"This will help offset those costs," Raschein said.