ATLANTA -- Atlanta's first responders to the March 30 collapse of I-85 received high praise from America's highest office, Thursday afternoon.
Just a day after being honored by Mayor Kasim Reed, Members of the Atlanta Fire Department, the Georgia State Patrol and the Atlanta Police Department were all present at the White House as they were recognized by President Donald Trump for their response to the massive fire and collapse of one of Atlanta's busiest highways.
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Fire Chief Joel Baker, two battalion chiefs -- Douglas Hatcher and James Macklemore -- and Capt. Arthur Atkins were just a few of the people there to receive recognition from the president; they also presented Trump an ax from the fire department.
The president tweeted out a photo from Thursday's ceremony, calling it a "great honor" to meet with the first responders.
It was a great honor to welcome Atlanta's heroic first responders to the White House this afternoon! pic.twitter.com/ZtC14AJ0xs— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2017
All of those present for the ceremony were as follows:
- Fire Chief Joel Baker, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department
- Battalion Chief Douglas Hatcher, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department
- Battalion Chief James McLemore, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department
- Capt. Arthur Adkins, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department
- Sgt. Anthony Campbell, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department
- Assistant Chief of Police Rodney Bryant, Atlanta Police Department
- Sgt. Ryan Heald, Atlanta Police Department
- Officer Ryan Severance, Atlanta Police Department
- Officer Michael Baker, Atlanta Police Department
- Sgt. First Class Thomas Kustra, Georgia State Patrol
- Sgt. First Class John Cronin, Georgia State Patrol
- Trooper First Class 2 Thomas Burkett, Georgia State Patrol
- Trooper First Class 2 Harold Tisdale, Jr., Georgia State Patrol
- Trooper First Class 1 John Giunta, Georgia State Patrol
- Trooper First Class 1 Kendell McKoy, Georgia State Patrol
No lives were lost and no one was injured in the collapse, which both city and national officials attributed to responders' swift actions to keep drivers and others near the flames safe. It was a remarkable outcome for an overpass that carries nearly 250,000 vehicles a day.
"Your skill and courage saved many lives and represented true strength, and the true strength of America," President Trump read from a proclamation.
The president went on to say that his administration is with the people of Georgia affected by the collapse, and reiterated the federal government's $10-million commitment to repairs of the bridge. He also said the bridge's collapse was a "painful reminder of the critical importance of infrastructure."
Work has continued non-stop to repair the bridge, and contractors are working hard to meet their June 15 deadline. However, the Georgia Department of Transportation said they were surprised at the amount of progress being made. Crews said construction may even be done sooner than expected, prompting the state to announce incentives to reopen the Interstate sooner.
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See more from the courageous actions of Atlanta's first responders in the moments immediately following the Interstate collapse.
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