Wilson Emergency Management Agency officially opened the new WEMA Station No. 1 Thursday morning.
The station, located at 371 Maddox-Simpson Parkway in Lebanon, held a dedication ceremony and open house from 10 a.m. until noon, featuring speeches from community and WEMA officials, tours of the facility, refreshments, a raising of the flag by Boy Scout Troop 246 and an uncoupling of the station’s fire hose.
Several WEMA officials, including fire Chief Keith Taylor and Director Joey Cooper praised the county and emergency personnel at the grand opening event, which was used to help celebrate the next phase of expanded emergency services in Wilson County.
The new Station No. 1 will house a fire engine, ambulance and brush truck, among other amenities, and Cooper said it would provide better ambulance and fire responses to the area and surrounding areas, as well as better response times.
Along with the grand opening, first responders who helped save the life of two-year-old Addilyn Gray, who nearly drowned in a swimming pool in April, were also honored with a proclamation from state legislators Rep. Susan Lynn, Rep. Mark Pody and Sen. Mae Beavers.
On April 11, Gray had to be airlifted to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt after her mother found her face down in the family pool. She was in and out of consciousness during the flight to Vanderbilt, where she stayed for the next twelve days until making a full recovery.
Among those honored were Sheriff Deputy Jason Anderson; Dispatcher Megan McMahon; Chief Shannon Cooper; Shift Commander Lee Bowling; Lieutenant Terry Bilbrey; EMT-IV Josh Collins; EMT-IV Brandon Owens; Paramedic Kyle Davis; Vanderbilt Life Flight Crew RN Sheldon Dreddy; Paramedic Grant Reatherford; Pilot Peter Patton.
Lynn, Pody and Beavers presented the proclamation to Cooper honoring the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and Wilson County EMA Ambulance and Rescue Personnel.
“The county has recognized these first responders now it’s only fitting that the state of Tennessee and the citizens of the state recognize the heroism of these men and women,” Lynn said.
Pody said he has recently personally had to use the services of our local first responders after suffering an injury.
“They came for me and I’m duly grateful for the way they treated all with respect and dignity and the time it took to get to me was incredibly quick,” Pody said.
Pody said “you always hear about something going wrong” in these circumstances, but through his experience and the incident with Gray, he was happy to point out times that things have gone right and he expressed his appreciation for the emergency personnel services.
Beavers said previously she had also had a situation herself where emergency personnel were needed.
“You don’t appreciate them until you need them,” Beavers said. “I just want to say thank you so much to all emergency workers, you have tough job and we appreciate everything that you do.”
Following the honor, Cooper thanked the countless people involved in making a new station possible, from the architects to the county commissioners and the community.
“This is a great day for Wilson County,” Cooper said. “If wasn’t for the great men and women putting forth a great effort then this wouldn’t happen, these are dedicated, loving and resourceful people and when the phone rings, you’re in good hands.
“We continue to strive to improve the quality of life in Wilson County and to prove that Tennessee and Wilson County is place to be,” Cooper said.
Commissioner Eugene Murray said he was “proud of the new station and the men and women who staff it, and mostly proud of the whole community.”
“I’m proud there are these type of individuals we can call on and get the kind of response we can get,” Murray said.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto then pointed out what a difference a few months can make, recalling just six months prior when the county opened WEMA Station No. 9 on Rutledge Lane.
Station No. 1 serves as the second new station completed to better serve county residents, and Hutto said the county was working toward a third.
“The building itself is awesome, but the souls of the people inside make the difference,” Hutto said. “These men and women chose to give their lives as a career to be a lifesaver and train for events, like [Gray’s]. I thank you for what you do and the sacrifice made for the county.”
Hutto said he also wanted to point out and recognize the numerous departments and elected officials present at the opening Thursday to support WEMA.
“Wilson County is together,” Hutto said. “Above all, everyone wants public safety, along with education and quality of life, to be number 1 in Wilson County.”
He also said he believed Wilson County’s emergency services were covering the county better than anyone anywhere.
“You haven’t had to pick me up and I hope you never have to pick me up, but I’m thankful you’re there,” Hutto said.