First responders celebrated for helping house fire victims to safety

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JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin family was re-united Tuesday with the first responders who saved them.

The family was part of a special ceremony celebrating those who helped them to safety. The family’s house caught on fire a year ago Tuesday – and crews quickly rushed to help. Everyone made it out alive and it all started with just one phone call from Rochester, New York.

Joseph & Amanda Whitlock, Joplin Residents, said, “It was just devastating to watch my house burn down, a house I grew up in, I lived here since I was 10 or 11 years old.”

It was one year ago when the Whitlock’s lives changed. One evening Joplin Police Officer Arthur Brophy was on his normal patrol when he noticed something happening.

Arthur Brophy, Joplin Police Officer, said, “I saw that the front of the house was on fire, saw a structure fire that was just got put in holding.”

He jumped into action.

“Ran around the back of the house, there were kids already coming out the back.”

“I helped usher them out to another officer, ran back inside, made sure no one else was there and got back out.”

Luckily everyone made it out alive, but at the cost of the Whitlock’s home. But a year later the with house rebuilt, their lives are getting back to normal.

Joseph & Amanda Whitlock, Joplin Residents, said, “It is a little hard, but we’ve moved on and the house is rebuilt, it looks good, we’re happy with it, we’re happy our kids are safe.”

And Tuesday, they met the woman who helped save them from a thousand miles away.

Heather Madonia, ADT Representative, said, “It was genuine and sincere and they were just a beautiful family, and very thankful that I played a part in it, there was quite a team involved, but the family is great, very welcoming, very appreciative.”

Joseph & Amanda Whitlock, Joplin Residents, said, “It’s emotional, I mean meeting Heather for the first time and then having ADT come out here and giving that award, I mean it’s emotional.”

While celebrating the people in Joplin who helped them a year ago.

Arthur Brophy, Joplin Police Officer, said, “Let’s me know that when they say they appreciate us they’re not just saying it to say it.”

ADT set up the ceremony Tuesday to help unite the Whitlock’s with Heather but they also celebrated the departments who helped during the fire. $5,000 was awarded to both the Joplin Fire and Police Departments for their service.

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