First Responders receive two statewide awards

by David Morgan, Lawrence County Executive

Today I want to thank and congratulate Lawrence County’s paid and unpaid First Responders and other local agencies honored by The Children’s Emergency Care Alliance of Tennessee (CECA) for their lifesaving actions in two separate events.

CECA presented eleven awards at its annual Star of Life ceremony, held May 2 in Lebanon, Tennessee. Eight were given to one emergency medical service team in each of Tennessee’s eight EMS Regions. Lawrence County brought home two of CECA’s three statewide awards: the State Star of Life Award and the Project ADAM Heart Hero Award.

The State Star of Life award recognized efforts that saved the life of a 70-year-old man who was entrapped in a Henryville grain bin in November 2023. It was presented to Henryville Volunteer Fire Department, Ethridge Volunteer Fire Department, Lawrenceburg Utility Systems, Lawrenceburg Fire Department, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department and Constables, Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency and Lawrence County Fire & Rescue.

The victim was 90% engulfed by corn when emergency responders arrived. “Usually, 90% engulfed means a 90% chance of fatality,” said Chad Powell, a member of Ethridge VFD who oversees the Grain Bin Rescue Team operation. Powell could not respond to that call, but all team members have the same training and skills.

Specialized equipment includes safety restraint devices for the rescue team and the person who is entrapped, a “turtle tube” and Great Wall of Rescue that stabilizes the person and allows the grain to be removed from around them. A Lawrenceburg Utility Systems vacuum truck was used to remove corn from the bin, allowing the man to walk out of its ground-level door. The whole operation took just over two hours.

Recently, Lawrence County Fire and Rescue was awarded funds from Nationwide Insurance Company to purchase a second Great Wall of Rescue system, which will go into a second trailer equipped for grain bin rescues in the county.

The Project ADAM Heart Hero Award honored efforts that saved the life of a 13-year-old Leoma Elementary student who suffered a cardiac arrest. This award went to Leoma Elementary, Lawrence County E-911, Lawrence County Fire & Rescue, Lawrenceburg Fire Department, Lawrence County Emergency Medical Service, and Air Evac Lifeteam.

In April 2023, Alanna Owen collapsed on the far side of the school playground and was unresponsive. School personnel administered CPR and two defibrillation shocks from the school’s AED, which were credited for saving her life before emergency responders arrived. Once First Responders were on the scene, Alanna received Advanced Life Support care, began breathing on her own and regained consciousness.

She was flown to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, where a genetic heart defect was discovered and corrected with surgery. The Owen family realized other relatives may have lost their lives to that issue, so it is very possible that multiple lives will be saved through this incident.

The Star of Life Awards Committee receives nominations from across the state, then chooses its annual honorees. Its website states, “The EMS Star of Life event honors the accomplishments of EMS personnel across the state of Tennessee who provide exemplary lifesaving care to adult and pediatric patients. The Star of Life Award recognizes exceptional front-line care, with a focus on the agencies and providers who are the initial care responders (from dispatch to hospital doors).”

I have written several times about the great work our paid and unpaid emergency professionals do in Lawrence County, and no doubt will have reason to do so again. I am so thankful their skills, professionalism, teamwork, and big hearts were recognized at this level, because it is very much deserved.

Please support our First Responders, including our Volunteer Fire Departments, in any way you can.

 Read MoreLawrence County TN, Government

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