AVERITT EXPRESS RECOGNIZES FIRST RESPONDERS
Thursday, May 16, 2022:
HCEMS enjoys visiting CAREER DAYS at our Hamilton County schools. Harrison Elementary held their annual CAREER DAY and HCEMS was there ready to build the kids interests in Emergency Medicine.
HCEMS visits Rivermont Elementary school
Monday, May 9, 2022:
HCEMS participates in “Community Helpers” at Rivermont Elementary School. Sixty kindergarteners toured the ambulance and met our Paramedics.
AVERITT EXPRESS RECOGNIZES FIRST RESPONDERS
Thursday, May 6, 2021:
Today we, along with Chattanooga Fire Department, got to meet the three outstanding Averitt Express employees who directly contributed saving the life of fellow co-worker Paul Palacio. On 17 February 2021, Joe Paul Tackett, Bob Voss, and Reggie McMahan initiated CPR on Mr. Palacio when he collapsed at work. The crew also applied their AED and delivered critical early defibrillation shocks to the patient. CFD Quint 8's crew arrived and continued CPR also delivering AED shocks. Upon their arrival, Medic 11's crew continued CPR and defibrillation along with advanced airway and administration of cardiac meds. Ultimately, the patient had a return of spontaneous circulation while being transported to Parkridge Medical Center. Mr. Palacio has recovered and was in attendance today to show his appreciation to his co-workers, HCEMS Medic 11's crew, and CFD Quint 8's crew. On Medic 11 that day were Sgt. Trevor Wheeler and Paramedic Christina Mount. CFD Quint 8's crew was Captain Terri Roshell, Lt. Dave Matthews, Sr. FF Brian Davis, and Eng. FF Maurice Beamon
Summer Heat Safety
With the summer upon us and the potential for high temperatures and higher heat indexes, Hamilton County EMS would like to make our communities aware of a few heat safety tips.
Scott Powell named Captain of HCEMS
Chattanooga, TN (April 11, 2019) The Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services names Scott Powell Captain of HCEMS C shift. Powell began his career in 1995 as an Emergency Medical Technician with HCEMS and was licensed as a Paramedic in 1996. Powell was promoted to Lieutenant in January 2013 and has now achieved the position of C shift Captain.
HCEMS Assistant Chief Wade Batson stated, ”We were very fortunate to have two very qualified choices for this position at HCEMS. Captain Powell’s patient care along with his Paramedic and leadership skills were among the reasons he was chosen Captain of C shift. I have worked beside him as partner early in our careers and am confident in his ability to continue to provide maturity, sound judgement, and integrity for the C shift team. I look forward to working with Captain Powell as Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services continues to provide outstanding service to the people of our community”
With 14 ambulances, HCEMS operates as the 911 provider with three shifts, A, B, and C, all providing advanced life support 24 hours a day seven days a week. Each of the shifts consists of one Assistant Chief, one Captain, two Lieutenants, and 48 Paramedics and Advanced EMT’s under the direction of the HCEMS Director and Deputy Director. In 2018 HCEMS responded to over 29,000 requests for emergency pre-hospital care and transportation to local hospitals in our area.
“This has been my goal with HCEMS and I am very honored to have been selected for this position,” said newly named Captain Scott Powell. “It truly is proof that HCEMS is a career service and that with determination and strength of character you can achieve the goals you set for yourself as an employee in this service, which has been proven again here at HCEMS.”
Pictured left to right HCEMS Assistant Chief Wade Batson, Captain Scott Powell, and Deputy Director John Miller
John Miller Named Deputy Director of HCEMS
February 26, 2019
The Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services names John T. Miller, as deputy director for HCEMS. Deputy Director Miller began his career in 1988 as an emergency medical technician with McMinn County. He was hired at HCEMS in 1990 and completed his paramedic training in 1991. He was named lieutenant with the service in 1998, achieved the rank of captain of the HCEMS A shift in 2010, and was named one of three assistant chiefs for HCEMS in 2016.
“This service is made up of a cross section of rural, suburban and urban areas and we receive a huge variety of calls that allows, with experience, for a person to choose this as a life career. The level structure here at HCEMS has always been here.
I’m living proof that it’s a career service and that a person can start here and then become the deputy director,” said Deputy Director Miller. “It’s exciting for me to think that from this position I’m better poised to make positive changes for this service locally and maybe perhaps even regionally.”
The deputy director is responsible for the day to day operation of the service; as well as, training and support functions of the service. The deputy director serves in leadership capacity overseeing the assistant chiefs as they go about their daily shift routines and will also function as the leader of the service in the absence of the director. HCEMS operates as the 911 provider for Hamilton County 24 hours a day with 14 advanced life support ambulances and 130 paramedics and advanced EMTs.
“There were four qualified individuals who interviewed for the position of deputy director. We are extremely fortunate to have that type of experience in our service. Deputy Director Miller showed experience, maturity, sound judgement and a different perspective of EMS than I bring to the table.” said HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson. “He has skills and abilities to offer to the service and public that will compliment and improve this service. I think we will complement each other in a variety of aspects of what is needed to grow our service and continue our team approach. Moving forward, Deputy Director Miller has a tremendous amount of fresh outlooks coming from the field and new perspectives of where EMS needs to go and I look to the deputy director to offer that leadership and direction.”
Deputy Director Miller said, “This has been my life, I don’t want to say calling, but since grade school I knew I wanted to be an emergency service provider. I look forward to working with this team of experienced professionals and working more closely with the director of Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services to continue to provide outstanding service to the people of our community.’
Pictured left to right, HCEMS Medical Director Ron Buchheit, General Services Administrator Lee Norris, HCEMS Deputy Director John Miller and Director Ken Wilkerson
2018 Hamilton County EMS Pink T-Shirt Campaign
2018 HAMILTON COUNTY EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE PINK T-SHIRT CAMPAIGN
Story & Photo by: Bob WIlliams
Pictured L-R front, Dale Solomon, Robin Marsh, Brandy Rogers, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger,
Melisa Kertesz, Deborah Deal. Row 2, Dan Asterford, Liz Bagwell, Jamie Lawson, Tom Jackson and
Tim Grant. Row 3, Tracie Shannon, David Burdett, Kelly Tornow Chris Dill and Roxanne Caldwell.
Chattanooga, TN (09/012/18) The 130 employees of Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service (HCEMS) will wear newly designed pink shirts as part of the official HCEMS uniform during the month of October, announced HCEMS Lieutenant Chris Dill. The uniform change is in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This will be the fourth experience by HCEMS in raising funds for breast cancer awareness in Hamilton County.
Sales of the t-shirts began September 4, and will continue through the end of September 2018 and are available to all citizens, organizations, and businesses in our area for $15.00 each. Sizes range from adult small through 5X. Proceeds from the 2018 T-Shirt Sales Campaign will benefit Sarah Cannon Cancer Center located at Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga. Sarah Cannon was a television and radio personality, known worldwide for her Grand Ole Opry character “Minnie Pearl.” After receiving treatment for breast cancer, she offered the use of her given name to promote cancer research and patient education with a vision of offering patients convenient access to early detection, clinical trials and a team approach to cancer care. The funds donated by HCEMS from the proceeds will assist breast cancer victims and their families within the Hamilton County and Chattanooga area.
The committee, made up of HCEMS crew members and administrative employees, created the design, printed and will sell the newly designed shirts for 2018. “It is a very dedicated Committee that I am proud to be a part of “said HCEMS Lt. Chris Dill. “As medical personnel, especially emergency medical, we see pain and suffering daily,” said Dill. “We are conscious of the needs of those who suffer from the disease of cancer and the challenges faced by their family and friends.”
“Many of our employees have faced the fears and challenges of breast cancer and, as a group, we wanted to continue to bring awareness of the disease in our community and the local efforts to help find a cure and support breast cancer survivors and their families.”
HCEMS employees have purchased the newly designed shirts to wear during October. Proceeds from the sale of the shirts will be donated to the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center at Parkridge Medical Center here in Chattanooga to further assist those with breast cancer and their families.
A limited number of the HCEMS shirts will be available to the public for $15.00 each. For more information please contact: HCEMS Lieutenant Brandy Rogers at 423-209-5007 or Brogers@hamiltontn.gov
“It is our goal to provide quality emergency medical care for our community,” said Dill. “This month-long awareness campaign is an effort of our employees to continue to set the standard of care in our area and provide service and assistance to those in need.”
August 31, 2018
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Promotes Nine as Senior Paramedics for Field Training
HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson announced the promotion of nine HCEMS Paramedics to the newly created positions of Senior Paramedic. This new assignment will carry the rank of Sergeant within the overall scope of the command structure.
In the new positions, Senior Paramedics will be functioning as field training officers and will be working with new employees to provide orientation training, oversight preceptorship and field training, as well as field and clinical training for student EMTs and Paramedics from the area community colleges. In addition, the Senior Paramedics will provide remediation or additional training for current employees in all areas as required in the field and on the job.
Director Wilkerson said, “This allows us to expand our scope of training where the people providing the training are actually on the job in the field and can consistently work with medics while on site developing skills that go beyond classroom training.”
While the positions are not supervisory positions, at emergency scenes Senior Paramedics will provide insight and accountability for students in their scope of training and will serve as senior representatives of HCEMS until they are relieved by a supervisor.
“As our service grows the mission grows and the needs in our community grow. With additional responsibilities that have been presented to our department by our Medical Director, we realize it is necessary to provide constant training on-site and in the field to continue to serve our community effectively, professionally and efficiently,” said Director Wilkerson.
“This is a continuation of what we have tried to do the entire history of the service, to build a true career Service, a service where an individual can come to work at HCEMS as a brand new Advanced EMT and retire 30 years later as a chief officer of the service. We are looking in the near future of offering additional responsibilities and opportunities,” stated Director Wilkerson.
According to Director Wilkerson the new positions and promotions from within HCEMS required four years of field experience as a paramedic and three years of service with HCEMS. All nine Senior Paramedics will be trained, evaluated and certified in advanced paramedic skills that are not available in the daily paramedic duties. “In addition,” said the Director, “they will be trained in expanded versions of training and evaluating employees to enhance our service and the capabilities of our department.”
HCEMS is the 9-1-1 provider for Hamilton County and operates with 120 Advanced EMT’s and Paramedics with 14 ambulances strategically placed throughout Hamilton County. This year, 2018, marks the 30th Anniversary of operations of HCEMS. In 2017 HCEMS responded to over 38,000 requests for emergency care.
Photo and Story by: Bob Williams, HCEMS
Pictured front row seated L-R, Senior Paramedic, Kelly Tornow, Stacie Liles, and Devoria Johnson. Second Row L-R Lt. Brian Gay, Director Ken Wilkerson, Senior Paramedic Doug Evans, Wayne Smith, Ben Parker, Chris Blackwell, Alberto Gutierrez, Deputy Chief John Combes, and LT. Brandy Rogers. Third Row L-R, Lt, Mark Puglise Assistant Chief John Miller, Lt. Chris Deal, Captain Tony Sylvester, Captain Billy Burnette, Assistant Chief Dale Head, Assistant Chief Wade Batson, Captain Brian Bricker, Captain Eric Ethridge, Captain David Burdett. Not pictured, Senior Paramedic James Smith
February 22, 2018:
HCEMS celebrates 30 years of Service
This year marks 30 years of service to our community
by Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services.
HCEMS was established under the administration of
then County Executive Dalton Roberts in February
1988 to provide emergency medical care to citizens of
Hamilton County. The service began with two
ambulances and 17 employees providing coverage for
the East and West sides of the County. In its first
month as a service, HCEMS responded to 87 requests
and transported 73 patients to the local medical facilities.
Only one month later, HCEMS added three additional ambulances. With a total of five ambulances by December 1988 the service answered over 2,300 emergency calls in Hamilton County.
HCEMS now operates 14 ambulances strategically placed throughout Hamilton County and employees 120 Licensed Paramedics and Advanced EMTs. As the 9-1-1 provider for Hamilton County HCEMS responded to over 38,000 requests for medical services and emergency transportation to local hospitals in 2017.
Over the years HCEMS has established and continues to maintain various divisions within the service including Training, Logistics, Tactical Medicine, Customer Service, Community EMS Education, and Special Events coverage for special events in Hamilton County such as Riverbend and Ironman Competitions among other community activities. Over the last four years, HCEMS has shown its support of our community by donating over $11,000 from its Annual Pink T-shirt Campaign, a fundraising effort to bring breast cancer awareness to the forefront in our area. HCEMS participates in National EMS Week by hosting a three day celebration for all local EMS agencies, First Responders and their families.
HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson said, “It has been exciting for me to see the thirty years of dedication and growth of HCEMS, its staff and employees. Our County leaders originally saw a need for EMS and made the decision to provide coverage for all Hamilton County citizens, a decision that is still supported by Mayor Coppinger and the current County leadership. Our dedicated employees continue to provide excellent pre-hospital, emergency care and live up to our service motto of ‘Setting the Standard of Care’. I am very proud to be a part of this service and its accomplishments over the years and look forward to future developments in our efforts to serve the people in our area with quality emergency medical care.“
For more information about HCEMS, visit www.hamiltontnems.org.
Story and Picture by: Bob Williams: Support Specialist
March 28, 2018
Soddy Daisy High School Mock Crash Event
In recognition of April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Hamilton County EMS partnered with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Soddy Daisy Police Department, Tennessee Highway Safety Office, and numerous other important safety, health, private, and non-profit organizations to host an educational mock crash event for the students of Soddy Daisy High School on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Soddy Daisy High School is one of the largest high schools in the Hamilton County Department of Education system that houses hundreds of students who are either at the legal driving or permit age.
The mock crash was replicated using vehicles, school volunteers, and emergency response personnel in order to give students a first-hand look at the negative and potentially fatal consequences of distracted driving.
Story and Picture by: Amy Maxwell
November 6, 2017
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Makes Donation to Sarah Cannon Cancer Center
Employees of Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) wore pink shirts as part of the official HCEMS uniform during the month of October in recognition of and to promote breast cancer awareness month. This was the third and a record breaking year of selling the pink t-shirts will all proceeds to benefit breast cancer awareness programs locally through the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center.
From the sale of over 1,300 shirts Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services donated $6,720.00 to the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center to further assist those with breast cancer and their families and to help in finding a cure for this devastating disease.
“I am again very pleased with the efforts and involvement of the Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services personnel. It was a record year for t-shirt sales during this annual event which promotes awareness of the disease in our community, the efforts being made to help find a cure and to support breast cancer survivors and their families,” said Darleen Poole, Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Captain.
HCEMS Deputy Chief John Combes stated, “The Hamilton County EMS staff supported the cause by purchasing and wearing the shirts during its third successful event. The HCEMS committee members volunteered their time to design, print, sell and promote this event through local radio and television appearances to help meet our goal.”
Tom Jackson of Parkridge Health System said, “It was a very well organized and successful event. The partnership between Parkridge and HCEMS is one we hope to continue. The enthusiasm of HCEMS and their commitment to the campaign of promoting breast cancer awareness is just one example of the department’s commitment, dedication and service to our community.”
“It is our goal to provide quality emergency medical care for our community,” said HCEMS Deputy Chief John Combes. “This month-long awareness campaign is an effort of our employees to continue to set the standard of care in our area and provide service and assistance to those in need.”
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service presents check to Sarah Cannon Cancer Center in the amount of $6,720.,00. Parkridge Health Care System Pictured on left front row Robin Marsh, Tyler Bennett, Deborah Deal, Tom Jackson, Back Row L-R Anne Ervin, Dan Astleford Michael Howard and Jared Lesher, Center: County Mayor Jim Coppinger, and on right L-R HCEMS Captain Darlene Poole, Paramedic Crystal Johnson, Patrice Schumerhorn, 2nd row Lt. Brian Bricker, Lt, Brandy Rogers, 3r row Paramedic Leeh Butcher Tracie Shannon, and HCEMS Deputy Chief John Combes.
Story and Picture by: Bob Williams, Support Specialist
Front Row (L to R) HCEMS Lt. Billy Burnette, CPD Sgt. Steve Wiertel, CPD Sgt. Andrew Peker and CPD Asst. Chief Eric Tucker
Back Row (L to R) HCEMS Captain John Miller, HCEMS Paramedic David Sinclair, AEMT Sharon Smith, CPD Chief David Roddy, HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson and HCEMS Deputy Chief John Combes
July 11, 2017
HCEMS recognizes Chattanooga Police Department Sgts. Wiertel and Peker for their Lifesaving Efforts
At the Chattanooga City Council, Hamilton County EMS Deputy Chief, John Combes, gave a special presentation to the Council in regards to two Chattanooga Police Officers that responded to a possible drowning accident that occurred on May 27, 2017. Combes mentioned CPD Sgts. Steve Wiertel and Andrew Peker gave immediate CPR to a 6 year old child who had drowned in a swimming pool. Due to their excellent lifesaving skills, the child survived without any deficits. Combes said, "If it was not for these two officers, this could have had a very different outcome. In my opinion, these officers saved this child's life."
April 13, 2017:
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Participates in the Annual Pinwheels For Prevention Event Promoting National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) was one of several local organizations that participated in Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block (CKOB) annual community event, Pinwheels for Prevention…It’s Your Turn to Make a Difference Pinwheels for Prevention, promoting child abuse awareness and prevention at the Creative Discovery Museum.
The free community event, in which CKOB partnered with several local agencies, was an effort to raise awareness and prevention of child abuse and to initiate and encourage our community to become actively engaged in protecting children from abuse and neglect.
The many visitors of the free event were given a tour of the HCEMS ambulance and asked questions about the pieces of medical equipment that are used by the Paramedics and Advanced EMTs.
“We (HCEMS) appreciate the opportunity to partner with other local and area organizations to help bring awareness about the traumatic effects of child abuse and the resources that are available in our community to help our children stay safe,” said HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson. “Through this event, we are given the opportunity to familiarize children in a non-emergency setting to the inside of an ambulance and to meet some of our medics which helps in minimizing fear they may have in a traumatic situation where an ambulance is necessary.”
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services participates in Annual Pinwheels For Prevention held at the
Creative Discovery Museum. Free tours of an HCEMS Ambulance were provide to all visiting the event.
Pictured are visitor Kylie Byrd, and HCEMS Paramedic Patrice Schermerhorn
February 8, 2017:
HCEMS Medics Re-Unite with Patient
On February 8, 2017, after almost two months following a serious medical emergency call to the Hamilton County 911 Center, Robert Bean reunited with Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Paramedic Myron Shroepfer and Advanced EMT Scott Garrison to say, “Thank you for saving my life.”
On December 22, 2016 Robert Bean hiked a mile into a wooded area in the northern part of Hamilton County hunting for deer when he suddenly became weak and unable to continue to move onward. Feeling the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, he sat down trying to regain his strength. When no relief came from the tightness in his chest his thoughts were that this may be the last day of his life. Remembering he had placed his cell phone in his coat he dialed his wife and children thinking this would be his last chance to say goodbye. According to his wife, she convinced him to call 911 for help. The Hamilton County 911 Center took Bean’s call and dispatched an emergency response from HCEMS Medic One to a general location in the northeastern part of Hamilton County.
Arriving in the general area and finding Bean’s vehicle, HCEMS Medic One asked dispatch to ping his cell phone for possible coordinates to the area he was calling from. Attempting to ping his cell phone, Medic One made the suggestion to dispatch to have him discharge a round from his hunting rifle for a location. Upon hearing the fire round HCEMS Paramedic Myron Shroepfer, Hamilton County Sheriff Officer and Bean’s son-in-law began their trek into the woods toward the sound. The three, carrying HCEMS essentials for treatment, headed to the location, found the patient and upon checking his vital signs, found he was indeed suffering from a heart attack. Due to his condition, the medical team decided to carry Bean one mile out of the woods for transportation to a local hospital.
“It was a God send that they found me and I am very grateful to the men and women of EMS and law enforcement of Hamilton County. The jobs they do is a thankless job but they do it every day, and they deserve more recognition for their efforts. That’s why my family and I are here today to say thank you for your devotion in working every day and saving lives,” said Bean.
After recovering from heart surgery in a local hospital, Bean was able to spend Christmas with his family. “These men and these women cared enough to show compassion and gave me such a wonderful Christmas present, the life of my son,” said Mary Ellen Noyes, Bean’s mother.
“Oftentimes, emergency situations don’t have this type of a positive outcome. However, due to the extra efforts of our personnel, and Mr. Bean’s early activation of the 911 system, this event has resulted in a patient who is able to return to his daily life and enjoy his family for years to come. It is the goal of Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services to provide quality emergency medical care for our community,” said Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Director Ken Wilkerson. “Being able to share in the thanks of this patient is the reward our employees strive for each time they respond on another emergency call.”
Patient reunites with HCEMS Paramedics
Hamilton County Emergency Medical personnel reunited with heart attack patient for their efforts in helping to save his life. Pictured: (LtoR) HCEMS Advanced EMT Scott Garrison, Paramedic Myron Shroepfer, Patients Mother Mary Ellen Noyes, Robert Bean, Mr. Bean’s wife Hope Bean and Lt. Supervisor Paramedic Billy Burnette.
Story and Photo by: Bob Williams, Support Specialist
January 24, 2017
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Honors Medical Personnel for Quality Patient Care and Service
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) presented awards to honor seventeen of its emergency medical personnel for outstanding patient care and customer service. The awards were presented to HCEMS Paramedics and Advanced EMTs by Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson and Deputy Chief John Combes.
With 134 employees, HCEMS operates as the 911 provider with fourteen emergency ambulances strategically placed throughout Hamilton County. “I am very proud to be part of this National and State award winning EMS service. In 2016 HCEMS personnel responded to over 34,000 alarms and provided professional and outstanding medical care for our citizens,” said HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson.
This year’s awards included Paramedic and Advanced EMT of the Year, Medical and Trauma Call of the Year, and Blue Ribbon Customer Service Award of the Year. The recipients of the individual awards were nominated by and presented with the awards by the nine Field Lieutenant Supervisors and three shift Captains of HCEMS.
The Paramedic of the Year Award was presented to Wayne Allen Smith. Advanced EMT Award presented to Scott Garrison. Medical Call of the Year was presented to Paramedic Marc Puglise, Paramedic Linda Kilgore, and Field Lt. Greg Allen. Trauma Call of the Year was presented to nine HCEMS personnel for their dedication and heroism during the terrorist attack on Chattanooga. Paramedic’s Charles “Scobey” Newman, Blake Smith, Leeh Butcher, Allen Smith, Field Lt’s Brian Gay, and Chris Dill along with Advanced EMT’s Jamie Jackson, and Brian Klasing, each received plaques and ribbons for Trauma Call of the Year. The Blue Ribbon Awards were presented to three HCEMS personnel Paramedic David Sinclair, Chris Van Alstyne, and Arron Howard for outstanding customer service.
Deputy Chief, John Combes stated, “It was my honor to present each of these awards to the professional men and women of HCEMS. Each of them continue to show their dedication and professionalism in providing quality emergency care in our area. They are the reason that HCEMS continues its motto of Setting the Standard of Care”.
Paramedic of the Year: Wayne Allen Smith AEMT of the Year: Scott Garrison
Photos by Amy Maxwell
Article by: Bob Williams
From Left to right back row: Mayor Jim Coppinger, HCEMS Deputy Chief Jon Combes, Lt. Greg Allen, Captain’s John Miller, Wade Batson, Lt. Billy Burnette, Lt. Brian Gay, and Lt Chris Dill, HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson,
Front Row left to right: HCEMS Paramedic’s Wayne Allen Smith, Leeh Butcher, Charles Scobey Newman, David Sinclair, and Advanced EMT Scott Garrison
Hamilton County EMS presents a check for $5,755.00 to the Mary Ellen Locher Breast Center
The employees of Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) wore pink shirts as part of the official HCEMS uniform during the month of October in recognition of breast cancer awareness month and in celebration of the life of local television personality MaryEllen Locher who courageously fought the disease until her death 10 years ago and brought awareness of breast cancer to the forefront in the Chattanooga community.
Hamilton County EMS staff supported the cause by purchasing and wearing the shirts during the month of October. The HCEMS committee members volunteered their time to help promote this event through local radio and television appearances, as well as delivering each shirt sold to help meet and surpass last year's goal of $5,300.
HCEMS employees are happy to announce the shirt sales surpassed their goal with a donation of $5,755.00 to the Mary Ellen Locher Breast Center this year. HCEMS wants to thank everyone who contributed to this important cause and look forward to making a new record amount for 2017!
Photo taken by Natalie Paulsen, Hamilton County Mayor's Office
Left to Right: Crystal Johnson, Lt. Brandy Rogers, Patrice Schermerhorn, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, HCEMS Deputy Chief John Combes, Memorial Foundation Jennifer Nicely, and Leah Bucher
Monday November 21, 2016
Hamilton County EMS Responds to Hamilton County Bus Accident
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services responded to a motor vehicle collision involving a Hamilton County School Bus. Approximately 35 Woodmore Elementary School students were on the bus and taken to area hospitals after the collision, several were seriously injured and unfortunately despite our best efforts five children lost their lives. EMS responded in accordance with disaster plans with all available ambulances, supervisory staff, senior leadership, and EMS logistics support. Triage was started by the first arriving paramedic and EMS command assumed by the first arriving field supervisor. Quickly all available HCEMS assets were mobilized to the scene and request for mutual aid was made. The most critically injured were transported initially as they were freed from the wreckage. While simultaneously a triage and treatment area was begun to prepare those less seriously injured to be prepared for transport.
“Our “typical” Monday was shattered by the senseless tragedy that unfolded on Talley Road. With pride I watched the professionalism of all HCEMS Paramedic’s and Advanced EMT’s on scene as they faced the challenges and without hesitation willingly demonstrated their commitment to our community in providing care for the many injured students of this tragedy. As I watched each of them work I felt their compassion for each child as if they were their own, the commitment of the men and women of HCEMS made a huge difference in so many lives” said Ken Wilkerson, Director of HCEMS.
Director Wilkerson also stated “Special thanks to the area ambulance providers Puckett, Southeast, Memorial, and Angel EMS for their assistance at the scene and to Bradley County EMS and Rhea County EMS for assistance with day to day operations in Hamilton County. Thanks also to Tennessee EMS Regional Consultant Nita Jernigan and others at Tennessee Department of Health EMS division. Each of these other agencies were willing to provide transportation, coverage, and assistance at the scene during this unforeseen tragedy” Each agency and its staff responded to help regardless of geographical or political boundaries. All agencies responded in accordance with years of training and preparation for an event everyone hopes would never happen. Their professionalism was evident at every point during this incident. On scene coordination efforts were also enhanced by the presence of various government leaders including Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. Mayor Coppinger reached out to various aspects of governmental operations to ensure cooperative efforts between agencies.
We ask you to keep the families of those that lost loved ones and that had children injured in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services responded to a motor vehicle collision involving a Hamilton County School Bus. Approximately 35 Woodmore Elementary School students were on the bus and taken to area hospitals after the collision.
Photo Courtesy of Bruce Garner Chattanooga Fire Department
February 10, 2016
Hamilton County EMS receives SERVICE OF THE YEAR award at TASA Conference
The Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service (HCEMS) was awarded the 2016 Bob Thomas Advanced Life Support Service (ALS) of the Year by the Tennessee Ambulance Service Association (TASA) during its annual Mid-Winter Conference and Award Banquet, “Race to the Top,” held in Gatlinburg at the Park Vista Resort.
Each year, The Bob Thomas ALS Award honors a Tennessee Emergency Medical Service that exemplifies outstanding professionalism and service to the community it serves. This year HCEMS was honored with the prestigious award for its continued efforts in providing outstanding emergency medical service for Hamilton County citizens, its community awareness programs, and for going above and beyond excellent customer service. In 2015, HCEMS responded to over 32,000 emergency medical and trauma related alarms, one of those being the July 16, 2015 terrorist shootings at the Lee Highway Recruiting Office and the Amnicola Highway Naval Marine Operations Center where five Military personnel lost their lives and one Marine and Chattanooga Police Officer were injured.
HCEMS is a 911 service which employs a staff of over 134 paramedics and advanced emergency medical technicians. There are fourteen ambulances strategically located throughout Hamilton County. “It is an honor to have been selected for this award, the men and women of HCEMS are outstanding, dedicated and committed to provide the best quality emergency medical care for the citizens of our community. They continue to demonstrate their professionalism and heroic services in our community and I am proud to be a part of this outstanding organization and service,” said HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson.
The goal of TASA is to secure harmony in business; to cultivate a more friendly spirit socially; to elevate and bring to a higher state of perfection to the EMS profession; to enlighten and direct public opinion in relation to the laws on ambulance service in Tennessee; to disseminate correct principles of business management and the best method of protecting the interest of the ambulance services in professional practice and the general public; to safeguard the common interest of its members; and to foster and maintain among them high professional ideals of public service.
Representatives accepting the 2016 Bob Thomas Advanced Life Support Service of the Year award on behalf of the employees of HCEMS were HCEMS, Director Ken Wilkerson, Deputy Chief John Combes, Captains John Miller and Dale Head and Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Bob Williams.
August 2, 2016
HCEMS "team up" with Hamilton County Sheriff's Office on the New Initiative to Stop Vehicular Heat Stroke in Children and Pets
Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Hamilton County EMS and several public and private partners unveiled a new community safety initiative, "Look Before You Lock" focusing on eliminating unnecessary child and pet deaths due to vehicular heat strokes. The event took place at the Hixson Walmart on Highway 153. The event showcased a marked patrol unit with an outside and inside thermometer comparing the difference in temperature to shoppers coming in and out of Walmart.
Vehicular Heat Stroke is a significant and deadly problem facing our nation. Every day, parents and care-givers are finding themselves more and more distracted whether it be from outside factors, in-car gadgets, stress or cell phones. Statistically, child deaths due to vehicular heat stroke are at an all time low since 1998, but despite the fact that numbers are lovwe, there have been 683 vehicular heatstroke related deaths since 1998 in the United States. On average, there are (37) deaths per year.
In 10 minutes, a car's temperature can rise over 20 degrees with 80% of total heat rise accumulating in the first 30 minutes. During the hottest summer months, maximum temperatures can easily reach 130 degrees. Even in the cooler months, interior temperatures can be 50 degrees higher than the outside. For example, even with an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside a car can still reach 100 degrees give the right conditions.
Ultimately, a child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
During the event, Hamilton County Sheriff, Jim Hammond was joined by HCEMS Director, Ken Wilkerson, Erlanger Children's Hospital ER Director, Dr. Darwin Koller, Walmart Market Manager for Southeast TN, Jeff Eversole, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department Highway Safety Coordinator, Monica Baker and McKamey Community Outreach Officer, Jennifer Heinzel, to discuss ways to prevent vehicular heat stroke and how it can affect children and pets.
(Pictured: Walmart Market Manager for Southeast Tennessee, Jeff Eversole, showcasing Walmart's "Customer Reminder Signs" located on the entrance doors to all Walmart Stores)
Pictured Left to Right: Advanced EMT Bob Williams, Captain John Miller, Deputy Chief John Combes, HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson, TASA Representative Stan Clark, and Captain Dale Head.
December 15, 2015
Hamilton County EMS re-unites with Patient
October 31st, a day celebrated by most as Halloween, will now be celebrated as a day of new beginnings for Mrs. Elizabeth Storm. After two months, following a serious medical emergency call to the Hamilton County 911 Center, Elizabeth Storm reunited with Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Paramedics Vincent Vella and Sam Latone to say, “Thank you for saving my life.”
At 10am on October 31, 2015, after eating breakfast, Mrs. Storm began to have a feeling of heavy pressure in her chest. “I had no pain just heavy pressure and shortness of breath,” said Mrs. Storm. She quickly dialed 911 requesting help. Medic Unit 6 from Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services was dispatched to the Storm address. Upon arrival the paramedics quickly assessed Mrs. Storm finding her with symptoms of low blood pressure, shortness of breath and a feeling of heavy pressure in her chest area, all signs of a potential heart attack. The quick reactions of the medics providing supplemental oxygen and medication via IV fluids helped to ease the pain during her transport to a local hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “When they arrived on the scene they immediately began to provide emergency care for me. Even though I couldn’t open my eyes to see them I could feel their compassion for me while rendering care to save my life,” said Mrs. Storm.
After recovering from heart surgery at a local hospital, according to Mrs. Storm, it became her goal to follow up and thank all the contributing persons who helped her through this incident which she says, “has given me a new perspective on life.” I now have a greater feel and respect for all things in life, especially those who cared enough to show me compassion in my time of need,” she said.
On Tuesday, December 15, 2015, Medic Unit 6 had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Storm again. “It was great to see her again in a different situation. On that day, when we arrived, she was in very serious condition and I am very honored to have been a part of the wellbeing and positive outcome for her life,” said Paramedic Latone. According to Mrs. Storm, her quick recovery from her heart attack is due to Paramedics Vella and Latone for their professional knowledge and assessment of her medical condition. “You guys are silent heroes who never get enough recognition for what you do. You are the period for the beginning of my sentence,” said Mrs. Storm.
“Sometimes emergency situations do not always have a positive outcome, but in this case, Mrs. Storm contributed to saving her own life by immediately calling 911 at the first signs of a possible medical situation. It is the goal of Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services to provide quality emergency medical care for our community,” said Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Director Ken Wilkerson. Having such an impact on the life of one of our citizens is especially gratifying during this blessed time of year.
Pictured: (LtoR) Paramedic Vincent Vella, patient Elizabeth Storm, Paramedic Sam Latone, Lt. Supervisor Paramedic Billy Blea.
Story and Photo by: Bob Williams, EMS Support Specialist
NOVEMBER 1, 2015
EMS Supply Officer
Three EMS Medics Honored
After more than eight months following an automobile accident which resulted in trauma brain injury for accident victim Ashlyn Anderson, she and her family recognized three Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service employees at a luncheon held in their honor. “They saved my life,” said Ashlyn Anderson.
Nineteen year old Ashlyn Anderson was involved in a major automobile accident in February, 2015 and was found unconscious inside her vehicle suffering from head trauma with multiple facial lacerations by Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service crew Paramedic Scobey Newman, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Jamie Jackson and Lieutenant Paramedic Chris Dill. On the scene, she was quickly assessed and immobilized with spinal precautions along with endotracheal intubation for airway management and transported to a local hospital. The three medics’ immediate actions and continued airway management at the scene and during transportation contributed to her recovery and the opportunity to reunite with the three members of HCEMS Staff.
The Anderson family told Ashlyn, the luncheon was a birthday party for her grandmother; however they surprised her by reuniting her with the HCEMS staff that “saved her life.” Held on Sunday November 1, 2015 emotions were high as hugs were exchanged by Ashlyn, her family members and the three medics as they talked about her journey from accident to recovery.
“It was just a joy to see her and the EMS personnel today and I’m just so thankful to them for their actions and the care they gave my daughter that day,” said Ashlyn’s father Jay Anderson. “They gave her the chance to be here today and I am so thankful for them. They were the best (paramedics) at the exact spot at the exact time that they were needed….they were her guardian angels.”
“I have been in this field of work for many years and many times accidents with less trauma than Ashlyn suffered didn’t work out as well, but in this case, it’s nice to see that there was such a positive outcome,” said Paramedic Charles “Scobey” Newman.
“It is our goal to provide quality emergency medical care for our community,” said HCEMS Lt. Chris Dill. “This was a real honor to meet Ashlyn and her family and to be acknowledged for doing our jobs.”
Pictured Left to Right: Advanced EMT, Jamie Jackson; Paramedic Scobey Newman; Lt. Chris Dill and patient, Ashlyn Anderson
Photo By: Bob Williams, Support Specialist
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service Partners With
Austria and Slovakia Paramedics During Recent Visit
Members of the Austrian Red Cross and the National Emergency Center of Slovakia had the opportunity to shadow the Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) team recently during their visit to Chattanooga, announced HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson.
“While all emergency medical services provide quality care and basically the same services for their community, this opportunity provided both the Hamilton County team and the members from Austria and Slovakia a time to share information,” said Director Wilkerson.
Two members of the Austrian Red Cross Burgenland, Mario Promintzer and Sandra Nestlinger, and two members of the National Emergency Center of Slovakia, Michal Derzak and Miriam Hyllova, toured the 911 Center, Erlanger Life Force, Emergency Operations Center, spoke in front of the Chattanooga City Council, met with City of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and attended a Board of Directors meeting of the American Red Cross SETN. They concluded their week working with HCEMS Administration, Paramedic Supervisors and field EMS crews.
The purpose of their visit is to learn more about the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee and Emergency Services in our community. They work in both of these services as paramedics and as emergency dispatchers in their respective countries.
Julia Wright with the American Red Cross SETN served as an Ambassador for the Austrian and Slovakia visitors and worked in conjunction with Bryan College to make this visit possible according to Director Wilkerson.
“This is a rare opportunity,” said Director Wilkerson. “I know we have a better understanding of the emergency services in both Austria and Slovakia, and I feel our visitors have a better understanding of how our service operates in our community. Overall, this has been a great experience and this sharing of information, improving emergency medical services locally and internationally, is invaluable.”
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service partners with Paramedics visiting from Slovakia and Austria. Pictured left to right are National Emergency Center of Slovakia Paramedics Miriam Hyllova and Michal Derzak, SETN Red Cross Executive Director Julia Wright, HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson, Austrian Red Cross Burgenland Paramedics Mario Promintzer and Sandra Nestlinger .
Published by: Bob Williams, HCEMS
September 29, 2015
Real Heroes Wear Pink!
The 139 employees of Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) will wear pink shirts as part of the official HCEMS uniform during the month of October announced HCEMS Deputy Chief John Combes.
The uniform change is in recognition of breast cancer awareness month and in celebration of the life of local television personality Mary Ellen Locher who courageously fought the disease until her death 10 years ago and brought awareness of breast cancer to the forefront in the Chattanooga community.
“As medical personnel, especially emergency medical, we see pain and suffering daily,” said Combes. “We are conscious of the needs of those with cancer and the challenges faced by their family and friends.”
“Many of our employees have faced the fears and challenges of breast cancer and as a group, we wanted to continue to bring awareness of the disease in our community and the local efforts to help find a cure and support breast cancer survivors and their families.”
HCEMS employees purchased the pink shirts to wear during October. Proceeds from the sale of the shirts will be donated to the Mary Ellen Locher Cancer Center here in Chattanooga to further assist those with breast cancer and their families.
A limited number of the pink HCEMS shirts will be available to the public for $10 each. For more information please contact: HCEMS Captain Darlene Poole 423-209-5007 or email@example.com
“It is our goal to provide quality emergency medical care for our community,” said Combes. “This month-long awareness campaign is an effort of our employees to continue to set the standard of care in our area and provide service and assistance to those in need.”
Article & Photos By:
Bob Williams, HCEMS Supply Officer
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Crews’ uniform will change to a pink shirt during the month of October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. Pictured left to right Deputy Chief John Combes, Paramedics Patrice Schermerhorn, Tracie Shannon, Vincent Vella, Leah Butcher, Lt. Paramedic Brandy Rogers, and Lt. Paramedic Brian Bricker.
County Mayor Jim Coppinger supports Emergency Medical Crews’ event to wear pink shirts for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. Pictured left to right Paramedics Vincent Vella, Crystal Johnson, Tracie Shannon, Mayor Jim Coppinger (center) Lt. Paramedic Brandy Rogers, Paramedics Patrice Schermerhorn, and Leah Butcher.
September 29, 2015
HAMILTON COUNTY DONATES EMERGENCY RESPONSE VEHICLE
The Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services has donated a surplus emergency response vehicle from its fleet to the Erlanger Hospital EMS Fellowship program which will allow the immediate response of an Emergency Room physician to emergency scenes, directly work with paramedics and advanced EMTs in providing on scene medical care in our area.
The Erlanger EMS Fellowship is a one-year program providing training specifically designed for an Emergency Medicine Physician to serve in the position as a Medical Director for a local or regional EMS Service similar to the Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services.
“We are pleased to be selected to be an important part of the EMS Fellowship program, the first of its kind as an accredited program in Tennessee and one of the few in the entire nation. The Emergency Response Physician will help provide a more rapid on scene care in traumatic and cardiac related incidences for citizens of Hamilton County. Being a part of this program shows how the Emergency Medical Services of Hamilton County continues setting the standard of care,” said Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Director Ken Wilkerson.
“Having a physician who can respond and work alongside our professional Paramedics and advanced EMTs at a critical scene, being part of and supporting this program continues our commitment to the citizens in our area for access to quality emergency care provided by Hamilton County EMS.”
Article & Photos By:
Bob Williams, HCEMS Supply Officer
JUNE 25, 2015
HCEMS recognize a 4 year-old girl with saving her grandfather's life
Aliyna Collier, a 4-year-old girl is being credited with saving her grandfather's life.
Aliyna Collier's grandfather, William Tucker, was babysitting her two weeks ago when he collapsed on the floor and couldn't speak.
Aliyna explained while watching cartoons, she notice her grandfather lying on the floor. She went to question him as to why he was lying on the floor and noticed he was not talking to her. She finally realized that something was wrong and proceeded to call her mother at work and explain the situation. Aliyna informed her mother to come home immediately! Something was wrong with her grandfather. Aliyan's mother, Haajar Tucker, proceeded to rush home and along the way, she dialed 9-1-1 to explain her situation.
Hamilton County EMS personnel, Dee Johnson and Chuck Walker, treated him on scene and transported him to the hospital where he received additional treatment for his symptoms.
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services presented Aliyna with a Blue Ribbon Award for her quick action for help.
Director Ken Wilkerson with Hamilton County EMS said this can serve as a good teaching point for parents.
"I think that its never too early to start working with your children, to teach your children what to do and how to help, how to take care of themselves and take care of situations. I think this is just a prime example of that," Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson said children should be able to do simple things during emergencies like identifying who they are, describing what's wrong and knowing their home address.
(Left to Right: Dee Johnson, HCEMS paramedic; William Tucker, grandfather; Haajar Tucker, mother; Aliyna, 4 yr. old daughter;
step-father, Aliyna's brother and Director Ken Wilkerson, HCEMS)
Photo by: Amy Maxwell
April 17, 2015
Article from Chattanoogan.com
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Participates In Pinwheels For Prevention
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) was one of several local organizations that participated in Pinwheels for Prevention…It’s Your Turn to Make a Difference Pinwheels for Prevention, Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block (CKOB) annual community event at the Creative Discovery Museum.
The free community event, in which CKOB partnered with several local agencies, was and effort to raise awareness about child abuse prevention and to initiate and encourage our community to become actively engaged in protecting children from abuse and neglect.
“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with CKOB and other local and area organizations to bring awareness about the traumatic effects of child abuse and the resources that are available in our community to help children stay safe,” said HCEMS Director Ken Wilkerson. “Many times we (HCEMS) are called to the scene of a victim of child abuse. Through this event, we are given the opportunity to show children the inside of an ambulance and meet some of our medics, helping to minimize the fear they may have in a traumatic situation where an ambulance is called.”
Hamilton County A-EMT Derrick Truitt gives tour of Hamilton County EMS ambulance to visitors of the Pinwheels for Prevention held at the Creative Discovery Museum.
APRIL 6, 2015
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Participates in Read Across America
Hamilton County, TN: (4/6/2015) Hamilton County EMS Lieutenant Billy Burnett recently participated in the Celebration of Dr. Seuss’ Read Across America event at Snow Hill Elementary School. According to Snow Hill Elementary School Librarian Lindsay McCarter, this was the first time the school invited guest readers for the celebration.
“We have held the Celebration of Dr. Seuss’ Read Across America for several years,” said Ms. McCarter, “however, this is the first year we have invited community leaders and professionals to be guest readers to read to our students.”
The event is to encourage students to get excited about reading said school officials. “The goal of having community leaders and professionals as guest readers is to show that reading takes place in all walks of life and reading is everywhere, from chapter books and newspapers to official reports and texting,” said Ms. McCarter.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me personally and professionally, not only to share my love and excitement of reading, but also to interact with children while on the job as an emergency medical professional. I was able to talk with the children about my job and let them know that while any emergency event can be frightening, we are caring individuals here to help them in an emergency situation,” said HCEMS Lieutenant Burnett. “It is a little less frightening for children in a traumatic incident, if they understand what happens on an emergency call.”
Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services was established in 1988. The advanced life support services covers 571 square miles and over 300,000 citizens. The fleet consists of 13 ambulance stations and responds to over 28,000 emergency calls annually. HCEMS foundation of core principles are leadership, training, mutual respect, customer service and teamwork. This foundation allows us to accomplish our goal of “Setting the Standard of Care”
For more information on Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services, visit www.hamiltontnems.org.
Pictured: Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Paramedic Supervisor Billy Burnette along with 4th grade students at Snow Hill Elementary School.
Picture by: Bob Williams, Hamilton County Support Specialist
January 22, 2015
EMS LIEUTENANT BRINGS ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE AWARENESS PROGRAM
TO STUDENTS AT EAST RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL
Following a 24 hour shift which included responding to an emergency call involving a drug overdose of a young adult, Hamilton County EMS Lieutenant Brian Bricker volunteered an additional eight hours of his time to speak with students at East Ridge High School on the harmful effects of alcohol and drug use and abuse.
Over 200 students participated in the interactive sessions led by Lt. Bricker. “Too many young adults make poor decisions on alcohol and drug use,” said Lt. Bricker. “If we can discourage young people from trying and using alcohol and drugs, we have affected a positive change and potentially avoided tragic events.”
Deputy Sheriff Dale Lockhart, SRO of East Ridge High School, organized the interactive program for the students at East Ridge High School. The program was developed to provide awareness on the harmful effects of alcohol and drug use, not only the medical side of using, but also legal and financial issues and the negative effects of alcohol and drug use and abuse on family and friends.
Hamilton County EMS Director Ken Wilkerson said, “We support our medics and staff and encourage them to help bring awareness of how to avoid harmful situations in our community. As the emergency medical service of Hamilton County, we see tragic events every day. If our team can help individuals avoid harmful and emergency situations, we become a safer and healthier community.”
Lt. Bricker has served Hamilton County for over 12 years as a paramedic with Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services. He has served as Lieutenant “District Supervisor” for 11 years.
Hamilton County EMS operates a 24 hour emergency medical service, with 14 ambulances and over 134 employees. For more information on Hamilton County EMS visit www.hamiltontnEMS.org
Picture by Bob Williams Hamilton County Support Specialist
Hamilton County EMS Lieutenant Brian Bricker volunteer’s an additional eight hours of his time to speak with students at East Ridge High School on the harmful effects of alcohol and drug use and abuse.