Tag Archives: First Responders

This Roane County Treasure Might Save Your Life – Oct 2018

{Tim Suter, Director of Emergency Medical Services – Written by Danielle Brown}

On the eleventh, those of us who were able, gathered at the steam plant to remember the first responders who gave their lives 17 years ago. Our flag waved high, strung between two ladder trucks, in the muggy Autumn air. The bell sang its dirge, 5-5-5, a signal for a Line of Duty Death (LODD). Each ring resonating through our respect, sorrow, memories of the day and a time when our nation was one. To my left and right, first responders heard the same bell ring but it sang a different song to them. Our firemen, police, and emergency medical personel hear the melancholy song of a comrade lost, a song that may be rung for them someday.

Roane County’s first responders risk their lives for our community but their risk goes beyond mortal injury. September was Suicide Awareness month, an uncomfortable but necessary conversation. This is a particularly insidious problem because of its ability to creep into one’s life with little trace. George Carlin captures how society has approached this delicate topic over the last century. In World War I, we called PTSD “shell shock”, in World War II, we called it “battle fatigue”, in the Korean war it was called “operational exhaustion,” and in the Vietnam War, we began to call it “post-traumatic stress disorder.” Carlin goes on to say, “The pain is completely buried under jargon.” We can give shell shock a fancy name but a syndrome by any other name can still change the course of someone’s life. PTSD is a clear and present concern for our first responders who are at a high risk.

Riding with Roane County’s finest, Mattlock Russel and Pat Murphy in Medic 1, I caught a small glimpse of ouremergency medical ’s daily life. One minute they are sitting down to grab a bite, but a crackly voice calls over the PA. Zaxby’s is forgotten on the table and our emergency medical responders are off to a family in crisis, performing lifesaving procedures in a moving vehicle, holding the life of another human being in their hands, remaining calm in the face of frantic loved ones, gathering vital information and communicating effectively with other medical professionals. Then when the siren is off and the doctors have taken over, the adrenaline is still fresh and it’s time to see if the cold meal left on the table is still edible. This emotional rollercoaster runs on a 24-hour-on, 48- hours-off schedule and the average emergency medical responder works multiple jobs. The Doctors have the pay and the prestige but the child that won’t let Medic 1 leave without a hug, is the one who really sees our invisible heroes.

How does an emergency medical responder wind down, relax, and cope with the daily unpredictability and trauma? Everyone has their own mechanisms but Pat Murphy and her two sons, Michael Murphy a Roane County Deputy Sheriff, and Keith Murphy a Loudon County critical care paramedic cope with a servant’s heart for their first responder family. Pat works in Priority Ambulance in Loudon and Knoxville when she is not on shift here in Roane County. While she admits she works her second and third job to keep busy, if pressed she will tell you that she uses a large part of her surplus income, in combination with her sons to throw one epic first responders party every year. “The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served. -Gordon B. Hinckley”

The week before the big day, Pat and her sons take off work to prepare; wrapping up to 150 hot dogs in bacon, making Halloween treats for the kids, building a bonfire that puts Mount Guyot to shame, and setting up the bump and jump. For the last 10 years, Pat and her family have covered the bill for this party, save for last year. The freezer containing hundreds of dollars worth of party food broke down but that didn’t stop the Murphy’s. They went right out and bought a second round of party food; the show must go on. Thankfully, word got out and Pat’s EMS family donated relief funds. Pat has already begun preparations for this year’s first responders family gathering.

Photographer Unknown

Jaws of Life = Priceless – Nov 2019

{Scott Stout – Director of Office of Emergency Services Special Thanks to Chuck Hiatt, Captain of Operations & Training Officer}

Cutter = $4600, Spreader = $4200 Ram = $4600, Jaws of Life = Priceless

First responders must train and receive various certifications to qualify for the job, but the learning never ends. In any vocation, there are those who show up when scheduled, check the necessary boxes, then wait for the clock to mark the end of the day. Conversely, there are those determined souls who are not satisfied to watch time pass, who have their craft in mind in the shower, when falling asleep (If they sleep), or out on the water. The ones who ask, “What can we learn? How can we do this better, faster next time?” are the proactive team members every employer hopes for. When the Roane County Firefighters experience periods of time between emergencies and they are not recovering from assisting the Sheriff’s secure the safety of a crime scene overnight or working alongside our volunteer firefighters to put out the last house fire out on New Hope Road, you can find them using that time proactively honing their skills. Last Thursday, October the 4th, Mike’s Auto body donated a white minivan to the county to learn how to use familiar tools for new techniques.

The Jaws of Life, so named for their ability to keep people from the jaws of death, are a set of hydraulic powered tools that fall into three categories, spreaders, cutters, and rams. AVG COST $4600 The spreaders hydraulic powered arms come to a narrow tip that can be inserted into small gaps between metal panels and expand holes or pry doors from their hinges. Conversely, the spreader can be used to compress. AVG COST $4200 The cutter is a hydraulic pair of shears powerful enough to cut through your vehicle. (AVG COST $1000 replacement blades) AVG COST $4600 Extension rams are expanding cylinders that are placed in strategic points in the structure to open up space with hydraulic power.

This may seem simple enough before you start to think a little deeper about the problem. Does this part need to be pried apart before pinching another area? Do we need to pry something apart before cutting it open? Then consider the varying makes and models of cars each year, let alone over the last century. Each decade’s advancements in alloys, structural, and safety standards bring new levels of safety and new challenges for those who are there for us when things have gone terribly wrong. In a time when the growing pains and benefits of technology dance the line between progress and egress an agent of our change, Steve Jobs, reminds us that, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” As taxpayers we employ a team of four firefighters who go beyond what is officially required; We pay for the tools they need to pry us from harm and in turn, they train to wield them better today than yesterday.