Tag Archives: Michael Murphy

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