Webster, N.Y. - For 14 years, Paul Hood's job was saving lives. But the paramedic who responded to help victims after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, was forced to retire because of an injury on the job.
Still he said, in his heart, he will always be a first responder. Like many people, he felt helpless watching the horror unfold in Webster on Christmas Eve.
Hood decided he needed to do something to honor the four firefighters ambushed by a gunman as they responded to fight a fire.
He started an on-line petition with one signature. His own. Soon, others posted it to their Facebook and Twitter pages and thousands signed their name.
The petition asks the White House to honor firefighters Lt. Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, who were killed, and Joe Hofstetter and Ted Scardino, who were injured. The request is that the men be awarded the highest honor given by the President to a civilian, The Medal of Freedom.
Paul Hood never expected people to respond as they did. By Thursday evening, more than 20,000 people had signed the petition.
25,000 signatures are needed by January 27th, in order for the request to be considered by the White House.
Hood knows people will help make this happen. He also hopes to contact members of Congress to ask for their assistance to recognize these local heroes.
A separate petition also nominates Greece Police Officer John Ritter for the same honor.
We have a link to both petitions on the green "Find It Button" on the front page of 13wham.com.