I was recently assisting with an accident that I came up on. My training as an Athletic Trainer provides me with a skillset for handling emergency situations. I have received additional training as a Sports Physical Therapist that does the same.

Fortunately, on our playing fields and courts, we rarely encounter medical emergencies. But we still must be prepared for them when they happen. Those same skills can be applied to other medical emergencies.

That’s where I happened to find myself recently. Most of the time, the job is clear. Check for airway and bleeding, stabilize the site and the injured, call for emergency transport. At that point, staying calm and not moving the injured is essential, unless it is unsafe for them to remain where they are.

A few weeks ago, I talked about a local fellow, Kenny Wiggins, that is an unsung hero, a local star. I found another such person during all this.

A quiet professional, someone that knows his job, someone that you probably don’t know. But part of the fabric of this community that makes this a great place to live.

When the ambulances arrived at the accident, I looked up and saw David Blanton, a paramedic with AMR. This isn’t the first time that I have been attending someone injured when David arrived.

On each occasion, I remember thinking, “Oh good, David is here.” I know that David will provide the very best in emergency care.

Calm, steady, and highly trained, David first asks me for my assessment of the situation then immediately goes into action. Our Athletic Trainers work often with the local EMT’s and paramedics so the hand-off is seamless.

Once those EMT’s and paramedics arrive, it is their show. They are the ones most prepared to deal with it from that point on.

And David is the best of the best. Originally from Pell City, Alabama, David has been a Blount Countian since 1999 and a Para-Medic since 1986.

We have had outstanding emergency medical services in this county for decades. It all started with Ray Everett and his company called Maryville-Alcoa Emergency Medical Services.

Think about this for a moment — these are the people most likely to be in a position to save your life. Well trained and dedicated to service, EMT’s and paramedics may also be the most underpaid health care professionals out there.

The hours are brutal, the work conditions can be difficult. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, if the call goes out, they are there. It tends to be a young person’s profession. Attrition is high.

The local EMT academy has helped. People that enter into this world do it for the love of the work and with a servant’s heart.

And think about this before you criticize any of the providers — when the ambulance shows up, they don’t stop and ask if you have health insurance. They don’t stop and ask about your ability to pay for those services. They don’t care if you’re a king or a pauper. They are there to take care of you. All of you.

I happen to believe that you get their very best effort every single time. I believe that is both the nature of their work (dealing with medical emergencies) and the people attracted to the work.

And if I’m ever in need of emergency transport, I hope that I look up and see David Blanton.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Blount Memorial Hospital’s Total Rehabilitation. Write to Joe at


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