KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — It's a difficult time to begin a career in health care. Yet, American Medical Response has more than 30 men and women in Knoxville doing just that. They're are undergoing Emergency Medical Technician training to join first responders on the front lines.
"These men and women go out and give it their all every day to take care of people," Chris McLain with AMR East Tennessee said. "That's the exciting part, AMR is able to bring new people into the health care field.”
In a time where there's a national shortage of first responders, local emergency medical providers are recruiting men and women to join their teams. Officials said they get training on how to assess the severity of people's injuries and illnesses, while also learning how to provide immediate treatment in the field, when moments may matter.
AMR has 32 men and women training to become EMTs that will respond to emergencies across East Tennessee. These trainees are paid to learn about the job, but many of these men and women are here for different reasons.
"My wife actually experienced a head injury," Stephen Pratt with AMR of East Tennessee said. "That's part of the reason why I said, 'You know what, I enjoy helping people. I enjoy helping people out.'"
She fell while he was not home and he said if it weren't for the EMT that came to take care of her, he doesn't know where she would be today. National First Responders Day honors these kinds of people, as well as the firefighters and medical professionals in the community.
"Most people go to work and they have a pretty good idea of what they're going to encounter most days. When you work in the emergency medical system as a first responder, you really don't have any idea of what you're going to roll up on," Pratt said.
There's one thing these first responders say they can expect – that's the unexpected.
"You never know where the call's going to lead so you've always got to be ready," Officer Derek Baird with Knoxville Police Department said.
Baird said there’s one call he will not soon forget. When he arrived on the scene, he said a woman was trying to jump off a bridge. He ran over and grabbed her, and said he pulled her off the bridge while she was trying to jump off.
"Just knowing she went home to her three kids made me feel good," he said.
Chris McLain has seen a fair share in his 30 years as an EMT. And he has put himself in harm's way to make sure people have the chance to return home.
"It was January, very cold, so I kind of broke the rules. Went into the water to bring her out and she's alive today," he said, recounting a story of when he saved a woman's life. "If you can make a difference in one person's life, it makes it all worth it.”
These men and women work to make a difference in the lives of East Tennessee. If you'd like to join the AMR team, the next training sessions start in Spring. Click here for more information.