First Responders Day honorees at RODEOHOUSTON include officers who ran after Santa Fe shooter

First responders and their families received a special honor at the Houston Rodeo on Monday.

Santa Fe ISD Officer John Barnes was among a group of 12 police officers, firefighters and EMT who were recognized with the "First Responder of the Year" award. 

Barnes received the award alongside Santa Fe ISD Asst. Chief Gary Forward and received a standing ovation from the crowd. 

The group of 12 honorees were also invited to be a part of the grand entry at the rodeo before Old Dominion performed. 

Barnes choked back tears in awe at the numerous tributes paid to him. 

"The amount of support we've gotten from the community is really amazing," Barnes said. 

Last May, Barnes was shot in his arm as he chased after the Santa Fe school shooter. The gunshot severed one of his arteries, causing him to lose mulitple liters of blood.

As he was life-flighted to the hospital, Barnes said he flatlined twice and nearly died.

"The blood loss was what caused the significant part of my injury and it couldve affected my brain and basically every organ in my body," Barnes said. 

Nearly 10 months later, the recovery process is still a full-time job for the veteran officer. 

And his return to his nearly 30-year career in law enforcement is unlikely. 

"I don't know if that's ever going to happen. I'd obviously have to be able to shoot a pistol with my right arm, 'cause you have to be able to shoot with both hands," he said. 

But Barnes says none of this would even be possible if Assistant Chief Gary Forward hadn’t risked his life to save both of theirs.

Forward placed a life-saving tourniquet on Barnes’ arm, stopping him from bleeding out, then dragged his body to hide safely from the gunman.

"You can't, you know... thats just something that you can't ever thank someone enough for," Barnes said while getting emotional. 

Barnes has not been back to work since, as his schedule is still packed with doctors appointments and therapy 3-4 times a week. 

And he's also making an effort to attend every court appearance for the admitted Santa Fe shooter.