A Grant County police officer has been honored with the highest civilian award for heroism.

Sergeant Stephen Harder of the Quincy Police Department has been announced as one of 17 North American citizens to receive the Carnegie Medal for Heroism, according to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission's website.

The 38-year-old was recognized for rescuing a 67-year-old woman who was lying unresponsive on the kitchen floor of her Quincy home during a house fire on Jan. 10, 2023.

Harder was on duty when he reportedly risked his own life to carry the woman to safety despite the overwhelming presence of smoke and the threat of explosions from multiple oxygen tanks inside the residence.

A Quincy Police detective who assisted Harder with the rescue said the flames were only about ten feet away from the woman when Harder picked her up and whisked her outside the house where she was revived by responding emergency personnel.

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who enter extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.

It has been awarded to 10,422 recipients since the inception of the Pittsburgh-based Fund in 1904.

In addition, each individual who receives the Carnegie Medal, or their survivors if it is given posthumously, are awarded with a financial grant.

Over $45 million has been awarded in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance since the Fund's inception, 120 years ago.

Here is an account of Harder's harrowing tale as it appears on the Fund's website:

"A fire broke out in the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 2023, in the Quincy, Washington, home of a 67-year-old woman who suffered from long-term illnesses and utilized home oxygen. The woman was unresponsive on the kitchen floor of her one-story house after a fire ignited in the living room, where there were oxygen cylinders. Her daughter retreated outside, called 911, and told the dispatcher that her mother remained inside. Before firefighters responded, on-duty police officer Stephen Harder, 38, from Quincy, and an accompanying detective, arrived on the scene and saw smoke issuing from the house. Harder, who was a former firefighter, opened the front door and saw flames in the living room. He and the detective went to the rear door of the house and opened it to smoke filling a hallway from the ceiling to a point about 18 inches off the floor. Harder and the detective crawled along the narrow hallway and turned into the kitchen. He found the woman unresponsive on the ground with the flames about 10 feet away. He grabbed her and pulled her to him. Crawling backward with her, he entered the hallway. The detective by then had returned to the rear porch for fresh air after she was overcome by the smoke. Harder pulled the woman to the doorway, where he was helped by the detective to carry the woman from the house. Outside, the woman was revived, and she was taken to a hospital. Harder and the detective both inhaled smoke but were medically cleared at a hospital."

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