published Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Dade County first responders honored for response outside jurisdiction

Hamilton County EMS Chief Ken Wilkerson, left, presents the First Responder of the Year awards to Dade County's James Canterbury, center, and Matt Hill on Thursday night at the Hamilton County EMS Award Banquet held at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
Hamilton County EMS Chief Ken Wilkerson, left, presents the First Responder of the Year awards to Dade County's James Canterbury, center, and Matt Hill on Thursday night at the Hamilton County EMS Award Banquet held at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Jake Canterbury and Matt Hill deviated a bit from the motto of their Dade County, Ga., volunteer fire hall on Nov. 12, but everybody seems to be OK with how it worked out.

Both received the "First Responder" award Thursday night at the Hamilton County Emergency Services awards banquet at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

The event highlighted a local celebration of National EMS Week.

Though they represent South Dade Fire and Rescue, Canterbury and Hill used their training to save a life in north Dade County while traveling to Chattanooga on Interstate 24 to pick up supplies for their fire hall.

They noticed a wrecked vehicle and a woman laying along the opposite side of the interstate and turned around to help.

Because Hill had his jump bag filled with medical equipment in the truck with him, the two were able to provide preliminary care to a seriously injured woman in the moments before an ambulance arrived.

"Our motto around our fire hall is to 'help the ones in our community and the ones passing through,'" Hill said. "Well, we were kind of passing through someone else's community and we saw this girl definitely needed some help. So we turned around and went to help because, to me, that was the right thing to do."

The two rolled the woman onto her back and Canterbury held the woman's cervical spine. A nurse showed up to help as well and was able to use Hill's equipment to obtain the woman's vital signs.

They helped load her into an ambulance and that was the last they heard about the incident until Hill received a call from Roger Woodyard, the South Dade Fire and Rescue chief, telling him that he and Canterbury would be receiving the award at the banquet.

"You see stuff like this on TV and you never think it'll happen to you," Hill said, "and when it does, you're still kind of in awe."

Woodyard said he is not surprised at how Hill and Canterbury responded to the situation -- even if it was not on their home turf.

"That's what you'll find of most of these people who give their time," Woodyard said. "They just care about helping people in need."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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