This common theme in medicine is seen in the six points of the “Star of Life” symbol. Each point represents the six stages of high quality pre-hospital care, which are early detection; early reporting; early response; good on-scene care, care in transit; and transfer to definitive care, such as a hospital.
The Bradley County EMS has been a recipient of the Star of Life Award numerous times and on May 23 three of our paramedics — Luke Fisher, Marisol Burke and Eric Walters, and EMT Nicky Norwood — were presented the 2013 Star of Life Award in Nashville. The department has established a statewide reputation among its peers as one of the best Emergency Medical Services in Tennessee.
It is not unusual for my office, or EMS Director Danny Lawson, to receive testimonials from residents who say that a county EMT or paramedic made the difference between life and death. Recently, Mrs. Linda Keller wrote to tell about her husband’s experience with the Bradley County EMS.
Linda wrote that on the morning of April 19, her husband, Danny, suffered a potentially fatal heart attack in their home. Linda expressed her deep appreciation for the quick response of paramedics Stan Clark and Cindy Hensley. She said she was also thankful for the amazing technology the crew used to digitally transmit Mr. Keller’s vital signs directly to the Emergency Room doctor at SkyRidge Medical Center. This took place as the paramedics were transporting Mr. Keller directly to Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga. Thanks to the interagency cooperation, quick response, highly trained EMS staff and the latest technology, Keller’s life was saved. The staff at Memorial was also highly complimentary of the Bradley County EMS, citing them as among the best in the region.
The county-owned EMS has been serving this community since Sept. 1, 1972. It was organized just a few months after the state Legislature passed a law regulating the modern EMS in Tennessee and setting standards for training, ambulances and medical equipment. A driving force behind the effort to form Bradley County’s EMS Department was Nelom Jackson who served as county judge (the position is now called county mayor) from 1966 to 1974. Judge Jackson threw his full support behind the EMS proposal.
In its first year of operation, BCEMS responded to just 1,800 calls with a handful of employees and four ambulances were purchased with a federal grant. In 1973, the state Legislature went one step further and mandated the training and certification of paramedics. Since that time, Bradley County EMS has become one of the most respected and professional emergency medical departments in Tennessee.
As Bradley County has grown, so has the demand for emergency medical service. The fleet of four ambulances has grown to 13. Since 2001, the EMS call volume has increased 76 percent and as of June 17 the department has responded to 10,134 calls.
In 2012, the department responded to 22,249 emergency calls, an average of 61 per day.
From its humble beginning just over 40 years ago, Bradley County EMS is now recognized as an “A” rated ambulance service by the Tennessee Department of Public Health. It is one of 210 ambulance services in Tennessee which form the front line of medical care during an emergency. Collectively, they make more than 1 million patient transports each year.
EMS Director Danny Lawson and his staff are to be commended for a job well done. They provide both basic and critical care patient transfers on a daily basis while meeting the ongoing requirements of continuing education and training for the EMS staff. They never lose sight of their goal of providing the highest level of pre-hospital care to the community.
It is my hope that you or a member of your family will not need medical attention from the BCEMS. However, it’s comforting to know that should the need arise help is as close as your telephone. Just dial 911. A well-trained team of paramedics and EMTs will quickly respond.
The Bradley County Emergency Medical Service is just one more reason I say … Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.