Wilson is 'Rescuer of the Year'

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By Calen McKinney

The phone rings. Again. He places a headset on his ears and answers, ready to do his best to help whoever is on the line.

"Woodlawn Christian. How may I help you?"

Fella Wilson has been the pastor at Woodlawn Christian Church since November 2002. He moved to Campbellsville after hearing how great the small town is from an old college friend.

"Campbellsville always seemed like such a neat town," Wilson said between a few phone calls and office visits. "I basically fell in love with the town before I came here."

Another one of Wilson's loves is caring for people - and it's that love that earned him this year's Campbellsville/Taylor County Rescue Rescuer of the Year.

Wilson was born in North Carolina, but moved around a lot. He grew up in Virginia and has lived in several states. He received degrees from Kentucky Christian College in 1985 and 1993 and eventually preached at a church in Springfield before coming to Campbellsville. Wilson and his wife, Sarah, who is a school teacher in Bardstown, have two teenage sons, Joshua and Zachary.

Wilson's desire to become a chaplain was sparked when a close friend of his was called to assist with the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

He said it was then that he realized he wanted to do something to help people.

"[I realized that] I am the most useless lump of human flesh in the world."

Only a couple of years later, in addition to becoming a Rescue chaplain, Wilson became a member of the Kentucky Community Crisis Response Team.

He said that group is called to assist with major disasters, and he has responded with the team to mine collapses and car and airplane crashes - including the crash of Comair Flight 5191 in Lexington in August 2006 that killed 49 people.

Wilson said receiving the Rescuer of the Year award is humbling.

"They're just [a lot] of guys up there who work hard at what they do," he said. "They're the greatest guys to work with. I've been fortunate to have some good chiefs to work with."

Director Allen Bottoms said Wilson is a fixture around Rescue. 

"He is definitely a very needed fixture here at Rescue," Bottoms said. "He is a wonderful person. He goes out of his way."

Wilson said it's been a privilege to work at Rescue.

"It is a privilege to work with a bunch of heroes like that," he said. "But when these people, when Campbellsville/Taylor County Rescue, said that on some level they appreciate what I am able to do, it meant the world."

Wilson said a chaplain is paged to a scene whenever a code is called that means a person is unconscious and not breathing. A chaplain's job is to talk to witnesses and others at the scene.

"We work with the family," Wilson said.

And Wilson has worked to be able to provide much more than support for a family who has been involved in a car crash - he's taken classes to get EMT credentials.

Becoming an EMT came out of Wilson's desire to be able to answer a person's questions with medical certainty at the scene of a collision.

Before taking EMT classes, Wilson said, he had to tell people that he would have to find out what the EMTs and paramedics are doing and report back to them.

Wilson said chaplains are also there to speak to Rescue personnel who struggle after losing a patient.

"The human body is a funny thing," he said. "You can do everything right and they won't live. I wanted to be able to say [to a family] that I'm sure they did all they could.

"I wanted to be a better chaplain," he said. "The real reason is to be the absolute best chaplain I can be. The people of Campbellsville deserve the very best they can receive."

Wilson attended EMT classes two nights a week and on several Saturdays.

"There was a great deal of studying and learning," he said. "I have learned so much. I gained a lot of knowledge that I hope will come in handy as a chaplain."

Wilson said he has been encouraged to continue his studies and become a paramedic, though he believes that is unlikely.

"I am a preacher," he said. "I am a minister who works at Rescue."

Bottoms said he admires Wilson for attending EMT classes "to better understand what we're doing.

"He may not practice as an EMT but [Rescue] wanted him to," Bottoms said. "It was very bighearted of him to do that, to get that schooling."

It's also unlikely for Wilson to use his EMT credentials in any capacity other than as a chaplain to explain medical procedures and terminology to families.

At the scene of a crash, he said, he is now able to say, "I know this is scary but they do this every time. They don't want to take any chances."

Since undergoing EMT training, Wilson has put his skills to use.

"It's come in handy a couple of times."

Wilson said he believes people not knowing what is going on is sometimes scarier than knowing bad news.

"Any information they receive is helpful."

Just because Wilson doesn't plan to actually become an EMT doesn't mean that he doesn't have a duty to act if he comes upon someone who needs medical attention.

And his EMT skills were recently put to the test.Wilson said he was traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday and came upon a car in the middle of the road upside down. He was the first person on the scene.

"I grabbed my bag and ran up to the scene," he said.

The driver of the vehicle was OK but said he thought he had a cut on his hand.

"His hand was gone," Wilson said. "But there was no bleeding."

Wilson learned quickly that the driver had a prosthetic hand and his cut was actually on his other arm."It scared me to death," he said. "I was thinking I had to find the hand, put it in ice, stop the bleeding."

After realizing the cut was minor, Wilson was able to patch the driver up.

"He survived even my treatments."

For the future, Wilson said, he hopes to continue working with Rescue and preaching at Woodlawn Christian Church.

"I would like to believe that I would be able to stick around like [fellow chaplains Dr. James Jones and Karl Lusk] have."

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.

Other awards

Campbellsville/Taylor County Rescue also recently presented other awards to its employees.

EMT of the Year is Ray Flores.

According to Rescue Director Allen Bottoms, Flores has been a dedicated employee of Rescue since October 2003.

"Flores has proven himself as a worthy recipient in the way he approaches his job. He conducts himself with professionalism and cares greatly for his patients.

"His years of experience [have] given him a great knowledge that he shares with others daily."

This year's Paramedic of the Year is Karla Goodwin.

Goodwin has been with Rescue for four years. Bottoms said Goodwin's extensive background and calm demeanor have given her the ability to deliver outstanding patient care in dire emergencies.

"She has an outstanding personality and is always friendly no matter the time or situation," he said.

The Richard Ramsey Spirit Award is presented annually to an individual or organization that exemplifies the qualities of compassion, and a willingness to help people.

Bottoms said the award is named in memory of Richard Ramsey, who served Rescue from 1984 until his death on Nov. 22, 1999.

"Ramsey was instrumental in the establishment of the chaplain's program here at Rescue. Bro. Ramsey is remembered by his colleagues for his calm, compassionate and pleasing personality. He was a Godly man, a family man and had a willingness to help and serve people."

This is the second year for the award and Lee Ann Muncie is this year's recipient.

Muncie began as a temporary nursing assistant on May 11, 1987, and became a full time ward clerk about a year later.

A few months later, she switched to a part time schedule to attend nursing school.

She became a full-time registered nurse in September 1990 and was appointed nighttime nursing supervisor in June 1991.

She is the co-chairperson of TRH's Organizational Excellence Program.