Learn more about Rutherford County's COVID-19 Response >>
In honor of Emergency Medical Services Week (May 17-23, 2020), Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron signed a proclamation publicly “saluting” the service of emergency medical services employees in the community and in communities across the nation for their hard work and dedication.
“The men and women of Rutherford County EMS have always served Rutherford County with professionalism and pride,” said Ketron, “and though they have faced an unusual and unprecedented battle on the frontlines of COVID-19, their courage and dedication has not waivered.”
Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services (RCEMS) has a total of 130 full time employees and 30 part-time employees, running out of a total of 12 stations with 16 ambulances per day. The department covers the entire county, running an average of 3,000 calls per month.
RCEMS Supervisor of Education and Training Steve Hart says he has been amazed with the way his colleagues have handled the adversities of COVID-19. “None of our employees have skipped a beat,” he said. “They have had to learn new ways of doing old treatments, have to wear extra personal protective equipment, which can be hot and hard to breathe in, take extra steps to ensure public safety as well as their own, and take on new responsibilities and roles as well and I’ve never once heard them complain.”
“RCEMS has really stepped up to the plate during this ongoing health situation,” Ketron said. “The effective protocols the department had in place to keep employees safe during COVID-19 caught the attention of other EMS Directors in Middle Tennessee, and now have been shared and implemented in other EMS departments.”
Mayor Ketron also mentioned the department’s willingness to help their local healthcare partners. “Early on, EMS Director Carl Hudgens and his staff volunteered to help Rutherford County Health Department (RCHD) in any way with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A select group of RCEMS medics were trained by Dr. Lorraine MacDonald, Health Officer for RCHD, to conduct nasal swab tests and were able to assist RCHD with drive-through testing. Because of their forward-thinking, RCEMS and Mayor Ketron were able to work with state leaders and the Tennessee Department of Health to pave the way for other EMS departments across the state to assist with COVID-19 testing.
RCEMS personnel were also instrumental in acquiring personal protective equipment and other items while participating in the partially-activated Emergency Operations Center. “The men and women serving in this role were a big part of the acquisition and distribution of these very important materials to their partners in public safety,” said Ketron.
Though the current pandemic has stifled some of the programs provided by RCEMS such as CPR training and community education, the department plans to resume those activities as soon as safely possible.
“We are looking forward to reconnecting with the citizens we serve and educating them on life-saving measures that can save their lives or the lives of someone they love,” said Hart.
Just last week, Anna Grace Arnold, a preschool teacher’s assistant at Middle Tennessee Christian School, was honored at the County Commission meeting with a Life Saver Resolution. On April 23, Anna Grace Arnold’s father suffered a massive heart attack at home. Anna Grace, who had received CPR training in December from Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services, was able to give her Dad CPR prior to first responder arrival. He was released from the hospital with no deficits on May 5, and is home and recovering well.
“This amazing story highlights the importance of these programs in our community,” Hart said.
Hart said the department is also ready to get back to their training programs. Prior to COVID-19, the department was working on an ultrasound project. Ultrasound machines were placed on all of the units in early February. “These machines assist with the discovery of collapsed lungs and are able to assess cardiac output,” said Hart, who mentioned many other benefits of this technology. “We plan to resume training on these machines around mid-June,” he continued.
“We are incredibly proud of RCEMS for all of their accomplishments, their compassionate care, and their commitment to serving the citizens of Rutherford County,” said Mayor Ketron. “Please join us in showing appreciation to them as we celebrate EMS Week!”