The Carnegie Medal is a prestigious award considered one of the highest civilian honors in the U.S. and Canada.
The requirements for the award were largely established by Andrew Carnegie in 1904 and include:
- The life of a human victim must be in imminent danger of being lost without intervention; this must be believed by the rescuer.
- The rescuer must be a civilian who knowingly and voluntarily risks death or serious physical injury to an extraordinary degree.
- The rescuer must have rescued or attempted the rescue of another person.
- The risk to be undertaken by the rescuer must be perceived by the rescuer and that perception cannot be diminished by outside factors.
- The act of heroism must have occurred in the United States, Canada, or the waters thereof (12 nautical miles).
- The act must be brought to the attention of the Commission within two years of the date of its occurrence.
- The rescuer must not have intentionally or through negligence caused the situation threatening the victim. Those who bear vocational or other responsibility for the safety of the victim must have acted beyond the line of duty.
- There must be conclusive evidence to support the threat to the victim’s life, the risk undertaken by the rescuer, the rescuer’s degree of responsibility, and the act’s occurrence.
Once the Commission receives a nomination from the public or from media accounts, our research into the incident begins. Each nomination receives equal attention as we strive to thoroughly understand each incident. The process takes at least several months to complete. Efforts are typically made to gather information from the nominee, the person rescued, the responding agency, and eyewitnesses to the incident. If the nomination looks like it will meet award requirements, case investigators then conduct telephone interviews and write a detailed report summarizing the rescue act, which is submitted to the Commission for a final decision.
Due to the volume of nominations the organization receives each year — about 800 — only those who ultimately receive the Carnegie Medal — about 11 percent — receive notification.
If you have been nominated for the Carnegie Medal and your case is under consideration, please keep the Commission informed of any changes to your contact information.