MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than a dozen Twin Cities’ firefighters and medics received a prestigious award Tuesday for saving the life of a 17-year-old girl.

The rescue happened at the end of January when firefighters were called to a home filled with smoke on Earl Street in St. Paul. There, firefighters found the teenager on the second floor — not breathing with her heart stopped.

Two ER doctors from Regions Hospital also responded, went into the house, worked with medics and helped save the girl’s life — while risking their own lives. They received the Meritorious Service Award, which is the highest civilian honor.

In addition to the challenges of the fire and lifeless victim, emergency responders faced bitterly cold weather. Due to the cold and late arrival of the ambulance, emergency responders had to work to resuscitate the girl inside the home.

“Firefighters from Ladder 7 brought the lifeless woman down to the first floor, where a most unique and successful resuscitation effort began,” said Chief Tim Butler of the St. Paul Fire Department. “It was certainly one of the most selfless and unprecedented efforts I’ve seen in over 25 years in the fire service.”

One of the doctors who received the award told WCCO they spent 5 minutes resuscitating the woman until she began breathing again.

The victim was not able to make the award ceremony, but is expected to make a full recovery.


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