CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Ten first responders were honored for heroic acts at this year's 200 Club of the Coastal Empire Valor Award ceremony.
Typically, a 200 Club committee selects one member from law enforcement and one from fire and rescue. Thursday's awards stemmed from one very tense situation and one that turned tragic last year, right here in the Coastal Empire.
A year ago, Chatham County deputies were pinned down by gunfire off Quacco Road, one shot by a man barricaded in a home. Tactical Medic with Southside Fire, Frank Pilcher, volunteered to rush into harm's way with officers to pull the deputies to safety.
"You want to be there with them, you want to be there to protect them. They protect me," said Pilcher.
Along with Pilcher, nine members of a U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force were honored for their role in an operation where one of their own, Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force Chief Inspector Patrick Carothers, lost his life.
Those nine officers are DUSM Robert Charles Doherty, U.S. Marshals Service; Deputy Sheriff Walter John Kent with the Chatham County Sheriff's Office, Special Deputy U.S. Marshal; Special Agent Peter Alan Morris with the Georgia Department of Corrections, Special Deputy U.S. Marshal; Criminal Investigator John Geoffrey Rohrs with the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, Special Deputy U.S. Marshal; Deputy Sheriff Franklin Roosevelt Rollins Jr. with the Chatham County Sheriff's Office, Special Deputy U.S. Marshal; Criminal Investigator Shane Derek Sasser with the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, Special Deputy U.S. Marshal; SDUSM Ramiro Suarez, U.S. Marshals Service; DUSM James Fitzhugh Turner, U.S. Marshals Service; and Special Agent Daniel Lyle Wilkes with the Georgia Department of Corrections, Special Deputy U.S. Marshal.
"A lot of those Marshal's officers were at my call as well. So it's just, there are so many people in this city who do amazing things every day."
Just this week, to protect those who risk their lives to protect and serve, Georgia lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 160 known as the "Back the Badge Act."
"The worst thing that you never expect, and we have to start training, for now, is when you're actually there to aid somebody and help somebody in a dark moment in their life, and then you get attacked," said Southside Fire and EMS CEO Chuck Kearns.
If passed, the bill would call for anyone convicted of committing aggravated assault against a public safety officer - which includes emergency personnel and law enforcement - to serve five to 20 years for the crime.
"We appreciate people that are in the legislature, and everything, doing whatever they can to make it where if one of us are hurt in the line of duty by somebody that's charged with the crime, they should suffer the consequences," said Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher.
Carothers' widow, Terry Carothers, was honored by the 200 Club Thursday night before the Valor Awards were given to the ten recipients.
The nonprofit's mission is to immediately respond with financial support to the families of fallen or critically injured first responders. To date, the 200 Club has given out over $1.7 million.