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EMS staffing shortage affecting Trousdale County too

Retaining employees seems to be a problem no matter where one looks these days, and Trousdale County’s EMS department is no exception.

During a Nov. 4 meeting of the Emergency Services Committee, Deputy Chief Mark Carman reported that the department currently has two paramedic vacancies and could have two more in the near future.

EMA Chief Matt Batey later told The Vidette that Trousdale County could soon be forced to run shifts with only one ambulance available rather than the current two. Doing so would have a significant impact on response times and potentially even patient outcomes, he said.

“If we have one truck doing a run to Nashville, that’s a three-hour trip; you’re not just dropping off at the ER,” Batey said. “We try to defer those calls if we can, but a lot of private services don’t want to come out this far.

“We have to depend on mutual aid or Rescue Squad, but they’re limited in what we can do without an ambulance.”

Trousdale County’s EMS currently averages six to seven minutes of response time per call, but if lack of personnel forces only ambulance to be on call per shift, “it could be 20 or 30 minutes before an ambulance comes,” Batey said.

Trousdale EMS reported 154 calls for service in October, which Batey said was about double the number it was when he started here eight years ago.

“I don’t anticipate it to slow down any with the number of people who have moved to Trousdale County,” he added.

A pay rate that lags behind surrounding counties is partly to blame, Carman said, and a difficult job also makes things tough on EMS workers.

“We have one vacancy on A shift and have had that since May, and one on B shift since September,” Carman told committee members. “Whenever we do exit interviews, we ask why they’re leaving… One of the first things we get is pay. We’re lower than most of the surrounding counties around us.”

Batey said a paramedic in Trousdale County starts out at roughly $49,000, “which was competitive a few years ago.”

The reported entry-level pay for an AEMT (advanced emergency medical technician) in Sumner County is $45,064 and $60,364 for a paramedic, while Davidson County pays $56,764 and $69,046 respectively. Montgomery County (Clarksville) recently raised its EMS pay by 22% and Sumner also raised its pay.

Wilson County has had to shut down two EMA stations because of a lack of staffing, the Lebanon Democrat reported last week, and is looking at raising its pay.

“WEMA is comparable to ours but they’re looking at significantly raising theirs,” Carman noted. “Macon County recently increased its starting pay and is pretty significant as well. Smith County’s startout pay is higher than what we’re paying our employees that have been here for a number of years.”

“A number of employees work 24 hours at another service, then come here and work 24,” Batey added. “A lot are burned out on that and this is secondary income.”

Trousdale County recently hired an outside company to conduct a wage study, which recommended a total increase for the department of $37,153.

Carman said battalion chiefs were covering shifts in some cases and other employees were working additional overtime shifts in others.

“If we just continue down the road we’re on and don’t make any corrections, we may have more and more vacancies,” Carman said.

Batey said the EMS department also has no applications on file, which is not normally the case and makes filling those vacancies even harder.

“We don’t have that flow of applications like we used to, and that makes it harder,” he said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re a small service with limited staff.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Trousdale County takes down top-ranked Meigs County

Playing perhaps their most complete game of the season, Trousdale County advanced to the Class 2A quarterfinals with a 16-8 stunner of top-ranked and undefeated Meigs County on the Tigers’ home field in Decatur.

The victory marked the second year in a row that the Jackets beat an undefeated team in the second round after they ousted Bledsoe County in 2020.

“Anybody that had anything to do with the Purple & Gold tonight, this was a true team effort. You can’t say anything better about those cats wearing purple & gold tonight on that field; they sold out,” TCHS coach Blake Satterfield said. “I thought we responded well tonight. I am super proud of our kids, super proud of our coaches.”

Trousdale County’s defense kept the Jackets in the game early on, as Meigs’ first two drives ended on fourth-down stops deep in Jackets territory. Meigs’ defense was equally up to the task, keeping Trousdale’s running game in check.

In the opening minute of the second quarter, Meigs got on the scoreboard on a two-yard run from senior quarterback Logan Carroll. The play was set up by a 37-yard pass to senior Cameron Huckabey. A trick play led to a two-point conversion as tight end Da’Quawn Tatum took a handoff and threw to Logan Purgason to put the Tigers ahead 8-0.

“Their quarterback is tough,” Satterfield said. “We watched the 2019 Trousdale-Meigs game and the 2020 game. Tonight we played like the 2019 version. That’s what good football programs do.”

Trousdale County would tie the game on the opening drive of the second half as Bryson Claiborne ran 52 yards down the home sideline to put the Jackets in scoring position. Five plays later, Claiborne would muscle across the goal line on fourth-and-3. Quarterback Keenan Burnley added a two-point run to make it 8-8.

“It was one step forward, two steps back (in the first half),” Satterfield said. “We just had to eliminate the penalties and mistakes.”

The Jackets’ defense stepped up big in the second half, keeping Meigs’ offense in check. Early in the fourth quarter, Carroll tried to find Huckabey but overthrew him and the pass was intercepted by Burnley at the TC 20.

Trousdale would go on a nine-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead as fullback Cole Gregory scored on a 3-yard carry. A 36-yard run from Kane Burnley helped ignite the drive, which was capped by a two-point run from Claiborne to make it 16-8 with 4:01 remaining.

Meigs County would drive to the Trousdale 39 before turning the ball over on downs with 2:17 to play. The Jackets gained one first down before giving Meigs one last shot from its 44 with just 40 seconds to play.

On first down, defensive tackle Xavier Harper sacked Carroll for a 16-yard loss and three straight incompletions allowed Trousdale to go into the “Victory Formation.”

Trousdale County raised its record to 10-1 on the season, while Meigs finished its season at 10-1. For Meigs’ seniors, it was their first-ever home defeat.

Claiborne finished with 20 carries for 130 yards, while Kane Burnley had 39 yards on three carries and Keenan Burnley 36 yards on nine attempts.

On defense, Brian Banks also intercepted a pass while Rob Atwood and Colin Hamedi also recorded sacks.

Trousdale County will travel to Watertown on Friday for a spot in the semifinals against either Oneida or Hampton.

“We’ve got another rock in the road next week. We’ve got to take care of business,” Satterfield said.

Commissioners look for ways to provide services to veterans

Members of the County Commission and the mayor took differing views last week on the best way to serve the needs of Trousdale County’s over 400 veterans.

Trousdale has been without a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) since Amber Russell resigned the position earlier this year. During the Nov. 9 meeting of the Steering Committee, County Mayor Stephen Chambers presented a proposal to partner with Sumner County’s VSO to provide a locally based option.

The mayor said he had spoken with the state’s Office of Veterans Affairs, which he added felt Trousdale’s population did not justify a separate officer.

“They used an example of Clay and Jackson counties, which share a Veterans Service Officer,” Chambers said. “They suggested we look at that.”

The mayor presented commissioners with a Memorandum of Understanding, in which Sumner County’s VSO would spend two days per month in Trousdale County from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Under the agreement, Trousdale would pay $250 per day for a VSO or $350 per day for the VSO Director.

“This is a way to bridge us until the next budget year and see if we can increase the interest in those services, then see if it’s worth hiring someone versus contracting that out,” Chambers added.

The mayor added that currently, Trousdale veterans are being referred to other counties or the state if they need assistance.

But a number of committee members said they wanted to examine the issue and expressed preference for someone local to do the job. Trousdale County does have a part-time VSO position funded in the current budget at $13,000 for 20 hours per week.

“If we’re going to be paying out money, I’d like to pay it to someone in our county who knows our people,” Chairman Dwight Jewell said. “This may be a good alternative but I wish we could look at this whole issue and see what needs we’re going to have.”

“Have we talked to our local veterans about their thoughts?” added Bill Fergusson.

“Somebody in the county’s got to know the people better and understand them,” Jerry Ford said.

Ultimately, committee members voted to recommend that the full County Commission set up a subcommittee to examine the needs of local veterans and whether it would be better to contract out that office.

“I want to reach out to our community first and exhaust options here first,” Fergusson said.

During Monday’s work session Commissioner Gary Walsh, a veteran himself and former commander of Hartsville’s VFW Post, called the Sumner deal a “stopgap measure” that would provide service for the present while the subcommittee searches for a more permanent solution. The Budget & Finance Committee has also given a favorable recommendation to the arrangement.

The County Commission will take up the matter at its next meeting, scheduled for Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsville

Chamber putting on Community Thanksgiving Meal

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the return of its annual Community Thanksgiving Meal, with the sixth such event being held next week to give thanks and to honor the spirit of the people of Hartsville.

The meal will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 23 from 4-7 p.m. at the Eleanor Ford Theatre in Trousdale County High School.

“Last year we just did box meals for first responders. This year we’re back to a Community Thanksgiving and planning for 850 people,” said Chamber Director Natalie Knudsen. “It’s right before Thanksgiving so if you’re going to be out of town, you can still come and have a meal with us!”

The meal will be free to all who attend and will consist of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie. There will be wait staff on hand as well, but there will be no “to-go” boxes available.

Anyone who is unable to attend can request a meal be delivered by contacting the Chamber at 615-374-9243. Deliveries will be made by members of the Volunteer Fire Department. Those who receive Meals on Wheels will have a meal delivered that evening as well.

The event has grown substantially.

“In the first year we planned to feed 500 people, and we were out of food in about an hour and a half,” Knudsen noted.

There will also be a slideshow on the history of Hartsville and decorative artwork on display in the auditorium during the meal.

The Chamber is seeking volunteers and donations to assist with the meal. For more information, contact Knudsen at or call 615-374-9243.

“We definitely need donations. If anyone’s gone to the grocery store lately, you’ve noticed the price of food has gone up,” Knudsen said. “But the community has always been 100% supportive of this and I have no doubt they will again.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or