Part of a crew that was one of the first on the scene at the Haynes Drive and Sulphur Springs Road area where the Good Friday tornadoes of 2009 hit, Murfreesboro Firefighter Jeremy Spivey did what he always does.
Spivey was one of two firefighters, the other being Richard Crick, who earned the title of firefighter of the year for 2009 from the Murfreesboro Fire Department, in part because of their efforts following the tornado, according to Murfreesboro Assistant Fire Chief Allen Swader.
"Those two worked hard this year and really deserved it," Swader said.
Like most firefighters, Spivey said he got in to his line of work because he wanted to "help people in need."
A graduate of Oakland High School who played on the school's 1998 championship football team, Spivey also understands one of the most important principles of firefighting — teamwork.
The 28-year-old never even mentioned his awarding of firefighter of the year in Murfreesboro until it was brought up in the interview.
"Of course I'm proud to have such an honor, but there are so many more that deserve that type of honor," he said. "Teamwork for us is life or death. In the community we serve, we have to be on the same page."
Spivey was one of the men with John Bryant in the moments after both Bryant's wife, Kori, and 3-month-old daughter, Olivia, were killed in the powerful EF-4 tornado that created a path of destruction 23.5 miles long in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.
"I remember watching it come through from the fire station and I had one of the worse feelings I have ever experienced," Spivey said. "I remember arriving at the scene ... There was so much going on and we were all being pulled in several directions."
But the firefighter got down to business, using his medical training as a first responder to check on other people in the area as well.
His first responder training is one of the things he's most proud of. He and Crick both had put their hours of medical training to use to save a woman who was brought by her husband to the fire department June 28, 2009, for help.
"A gentleman stopped by Station 6 and advised personnel his wife needed medical attention," said Assistant Fire Chief Gary Farley, in an earlier interview. "Richard and Jeremy went into action, using their medical first-aid training."
While waiting for paramedics, Spivey and Crick began performing CPR on the female, who was in full cardiac arrest, on the engine room floor. After minutes of CPR and defibrillation, the two firefighters were able to help the woman regain a strong pulse before the arrival of an EMS medic vehicle.
Following their shift, Spivey and Crick checked on the woman at MTMC. The men learned the woman they saved had received a promising prognosis.
"The victim's family was extremely appreciative for the actions these two men took and stated they remained hopeful because of them," Farley said.
The greatest thing about being a firefighter to Spivey is being able to intervene in imminent death or destruction.
"When you take all of the hours that you put into training and then see the results of what you do in a real life situation, you realize that you're in the right career," he said.
And train the firefighter does — just like all firefighters. There are a mandatory 20 hours of training a month for city firefighters.
Spivey said the training is out of a necessity. Being a firefighter can be a hazardous and even a deadly job.
"That's always in the back of your mind," he said. "In this line of work you never know what you're really getting into, whether it be a car wreck or a burning business. It (death) is in the back of your mind that today could be your last day, but if you go back to your training you can avoid a worse case scenario."
When times are tough, Spivey also thinks of his wife and two children.
Also in tough times, the firefighter finds himself being thanked by strangers.
"It's happened on more than one occasion and it's random places like the grocery store," he said, adding he understands that most people "aren't really thanking me, they're thanking the profession."
It's a profession that Spivey said he would do as long as he's able bodied because of his love for it.
"As long as I can physically do it, I will," he said. "A lot of people complain about their jobs. When I go to work, I don't say that I'm going to work. I say I'm going to the fire hall or something like that. I enjoy doing what I do and I'm grateful because I know a lot of people can't say that."
Articel provided by The Daily News Journal www.dnj.com
BY MARK BELL • MBELL@DNJ.COM • April 11, 2010