Nursing home staff and first responders honored

By Bob Robinson
Star Staff

   The sign outside the Pine Ridge Care and Rehabilitation Center yesterday read "in all things, give thanks."
   Inside, the administrator and staff were doing just that as they paid tribute to staff and members of the Elizabethton Fire Department, Police Department and Carter County Emergency and Rescue Squad.
   The occasion was an appreciation luncheon to honor Pine Ridge Staff and local emergency services personnel for their effort in responding to emergencies on Jan. 9 and 10.
   Around 9 p.m. on Jan. 9, a fire in a dryer in the laundry room at the nursing home brought a quick response from fire and rescue personnel.
   By the time firemen arrived on the scene, within minutes after the alarm was sounded, Mary Hummer and Claudia Snead, staff members, had extinguished the fire with hand-held fire extinguishers after subjecting themselves to smoke inhalation.
   Jennie Hornsby, administrator of Pine Ridge, said when she first learned of the fire, "it was an administrator's worst nightmare, since many patients are bedridden."
   Ms. Hornsby said the first comforting words she heard after arriving on the scene were those of Fire Chief Mike Shouse. "Your staff did a great job."
   Chief Shouse also reassured her that "everything would be all right and to not worry."
   "That reassurance and professionalism is something most people take for granted," Ms. Hornsby said.
   Thirteen firemen and 24 rescue personnel responded to the fire alarm in the event Pine Ridge patients had to be evacuated. They were not.
   Firemen remained on the scene almost two hours to remove smoke with large fans and to do cleanup, Chief Shouse said.
   Some 12 hours after the fire emergency, first responders were called to Pine Ridge once again. This time, it was in response to a runaway vehicle slamming through an outside wall into a patient's room.
   "It was a miracle from God that no one was killed or injured. Sharon Crom and Botany Wilson (Pine Ridge staff members) had a split second to remove the patient from harm's way," Ms. Hornsby said.
   They, too, were honored for their bravery and heroism at the luncheon yesterday.
   Terry Arnold, director of the Carter County Emergency & Rescue Squad, also received a plaque in appreciation for the "reassurance, professionalism and training of rescue personnel."
   "Elizabethton and Carter County are fortunate to have such highly trained professionals who respond anytime an alarm goes off," Ms. Hornsby said.
   "After Sept. 11, it caused all of us to stop, think, and not take for granted the importance of first responders," Ms. Hornsby added.
   For their quick action in responding to emergencies on Jan. 9 and 10, Mary, Claudia, Sharon and Botany were named Employees of the Month. David Welch, Pine Ridge safety director, was also recognized.
   Ms. Hornsby also presented a plaque to all employees in appreciation for their "love and dedication to Pine Ridge patients."
   Fire drills are conducted monthly at Pine Ridge for each shift. Ms. Hornsby credits the safety training and fast action by Pine Ridge staff with preventing a bigger disaster.
   Pine Ridge Care and Rehab Center is owned by Home Quality Management of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
   "If you want to see us, just give us a call next time. You don't have to have an emergency," Chief Shouse told Ms. Hornsby.