From firefighters who enter burning buildings ... to police officers who respond to calls from people in distress ... to emergency medical service personnel who comfort and provide immediate care for the ill and injured, we in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky have many heroes to thank.

Every police, fire, emergency medical and public health professional deserves our respect and honor.

In an effort to recognize these men and women, today's Madison Courier includes a special section, "Honor, Integrity, Service" a tribute to our local heroes.

We have all seen the heroic work that our first responders do in keeping our communities safe, protecting our families, and most importantly, saving lives.

Our first responders need to be prepared for everything from car crashes to natural disasters.

Most of our local firefighters serve on a volunteer basis - but don't think for one second that they're not professionals. We'd match their expertise and dedication with any firefighters in the nation.

We speak of their bravery, but our emergency workers also serve our communities in other ways. From speaking to children in schools, to leading discussions at neighborhood watch meetings, these men and women very much contribute to our quality of life.

Each police, fire, emergency medical service and public health professional is a constant source of inspiration and we thank them for their dedication and service.