Inaugural First Responder of the Year Award presented

Published 2:16 pm Saturday, April 13, 2019

The inaugural First Responder of the Year Award was presented at the 2019 Bell County Chamber of Commerce Dinner and Award Ceremony Friday night.

Middlesboro Fire/EMS Department member Chris Webb was the first recipient of the award for his incredible work on duty with the department as well as off duty.

“Last year, he witnessed a terrible car accident,” Doug Bayless, commander of Vets Serving Vets explained. “He immediately ran to the first person whose car was still on the road and discovered the man had already passed away. He then ran and jumped over the guardrail and slid down an embankment to check on the other car.”

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According to Bayless, he discovered a man in the car that had a weak pulse and bleeding profusely.

“He pulled the man from the car and started CPR,” Bayless said. “While doing chest compressions, he didn’t realize the man’s chest was covered in broken glass and with every chest compression he was cutting is own hands. He was exposing himself to blood borne pathogens from a stranger.”

Unfortunately, the man Webb gave CPR to passed away while being transported to the hospital.

Bayless said that after hearing the story, they discovered that not only is Webb a Middlesboro firefighter and EMT but he is an Iraq War Veteran.

“Now, anyone who knows anything about Vets Serving Vets knows we won’t pass up an opportunity to brag on a brother or sister veteran,” explained Bayless. “He is a United States Army Sniper who can take a life and save a life; a true man of action.”

Webb has been with the Middlesboro Fire/EMS Department for approximately seven years.

“I am very humbled being the first person to receive this award,” Webb said. “I feel like any one of my brothers, including the ones in blue, are just as deserving to receive this award as myself.”

Bayless explained that the idea for the First Responder of the Year Award was brought before a Leadership Bell County class a few years ago but it did not happen.

“About a year ago, I entertained a motion at a Vets Serving Vets meeting that we should do something about it,” Bayless explained. “Every member of Vets Serving Vets unanimously agreed.”

Bayless then approached the Bell County Chamber of Commerce about presenting the award at the annual chamber dinner and they quickly said “yes.”

“On a side note, because Chris was off duty at the time of the accident, he had to pay for his own lab work to make sure he was not infected with a blood borne disease,” Bayless stated. “Thankfully, he was good to go.”

“Some days on this job God rewards us with being able to save another person’s life,” Webb said. “Somedays you ask yourself why you do it but in the end it’s either in your blood or it isn’t.”

Regretfully, he could not be at the dinner but his father, magistrate Glen Webb accepted the award on his behalf.

“The life we live is not for everyone but us few that do it are a special breed,” Webb explained. “I accept this award on behalf of the ones that gave the ultimate sacrifice for others while on the job. Those men and women are the real heroes and the ones that truly should be honored every day.”