Legislation honors first responders

First responders injured or killed in the line of duty while showing extraordinary bravery will be honored with the new North Star Medal under House Bill 235, which was signed into law on Sept. 11 by Gov. Bill Walker.

The honor is reserved for firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, first responders, peace officers and search and rescue volunteers.

“We owe them a debt of gratitude,” said Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, the bill’s sponsor, who credited former Rep. Bob Lynn with coming up with the idea.

First responder agencies and organizations in Alaska may nominate candidates for the award, with winners to be chosen by the governor. The North Start Medal is intended to be similar to the Alaska Medal for Heroism, which was created by the Legislature in 1965 to recognize the heroic act of saving a life.