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EMS Service members dedicate new memorial

Hannah Swayze • Feb 25, 2018 at 12:09 AM

In a short, but meaningful, dedication ceremony on Saturday EMS working took a moment to honor those who have come before them unveiling a new memorial at the Washington County/Johnson City Emergency Medical Services Headquarters.

The new statue, which stands right by the front door, was dedicated in front of families and friends of those whose names are engraved on the black marble.

The eight names, James Hughes, Tracy Oaks, Bill Hambric, Doug Johnston, Terry Hoilman, Luke Story, Jason Austin and Matthew Barber, are of former employees who died while actively serving the area through Emergency medical services.

At the bottom are the names of retirees who were also honored, Jim Jones and Steve Mize.

The ceremony was led by the EMS Honor Guard. Each memorialized person was honored by the resounding ring of a bell and a flower placed in front of the statue.

“We wanted to something to memorialize them and give the family something to see when they come by here. They’re still our family we treat them all like they’re still our family,” said Sgt. Eric Matheson, Honor Guard commander.

“I’m stationed here at this station, so every day I get to come in and I get to see their names on the wall and it reminds me of why I’m here and continuing on their legacy continuing on the job that they loved to do.”

EMS Chief Dan Wheeley said that while there was a memorial there before, they wanted something that would last, something simple, something those honored on it would be proud of.

Wheeley said that for him, it is a reminder of the commitment the staff makes to the community.

“It’s a tough job,” said Wheeley. “It takes an emotional toll on the employee and it takes an emotional toll on the families to have them leave for 24 hours at a time and their family does know what they may face while they’re at work. It just reminds me how important it is to remember these people.”

In attendance along with EMS staff were family and friends of those who are remembered with the memorial.

Jenna Austin, whose late husband Jason’s name is the next to last on the memorial, said that she thinks he’d be “tickled” by all the attention.

“He dedicated his life to EMS. Everything I mean, outside of work he researched it he kept up with all the new medical stuff this was really his calling,” said Austin. “I’m really proud to see his name up there.”

The memorial stands at the headquarters so families and friends can have a place to come and remember their loved ones.

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