HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Friday, Oct. 28 is National First Responders Appreciation Day, a day to highlight the dedication of the men and women who put their lives on the line for us.

In the U.S., nearly 4.6 million career and volunteer first responders support the communities they live in, according to the Dept. of Homeland Security. These men and women are firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, 911 operators, and more.

They’re the first people you call in any emergency, and they’re the people who are first at every scene. It’s a career that lasts a lifetime, and its sole motivation is to help others.

In Connecticut, residents across the state are paying tribute in any way they know how.

Saint Mary’s held a special event in Waterbury to honor all of the city’s emergency personnel for their sacrifice and service.

Contributing with her voice, Detective Andrea Deio and her fellow first responders were thanked for their heroic work. St. Mary’s provided them with a free lunch to show their appreciation.

“One thing they probably never get the time to do is to have a warm meal,” said Kim Kalajainen, Chief Administrative Officer at Saint Mary’s Hospital. “Come get recharged, have some food, and be with one another.”

St. Mary’s event brought together Waterbury police officers, firefighters, ambulance crews, and EMT’s/

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to say I’m thankful, grateful for putting yourself in harm’s way day in and day out,” said Dr. Wes Kyle, Emergency Physician at St. Mary’s hospital.

“It means a lot to anyone in this profession that the people support you, the community supports you, they care about you and care about the great work we do,” said Lt. Ryan Bessette, Waterbury Police Department.

On this day, the two Bristol police officers killed in the line of duty, Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy, were on the mind of Waterbury officers. Their heroism is forever remembered.

“Ultimately, leaving the door every morning, not knowing what’s to come and answering that call for duty,” Bessette said. “We have seen that with our brother officers in Bristol. On a day like today, we remember them.”

Along with the free BBQ lunch, first responders enjoyed a cannoli truck and ate around artwork portraying them from local students.

Also taking place in Hamden, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., first responders were able to stop by the Whitney Rehabilitation Center at 2798 Whitney Ave. for a free gift!

Or if you’re not a first responder yourself, email favorite.1st.responder@gmail.com to nominate a first responder close to your heart. They’ll get a chance to win a $500 gift card!