With a population of less than 5,000, Smithville is a peaceful place best known for its beautiful Center Hill Lake and the annual Fiddler's Jamboree & Crafts Festival. Last Wednesday night, chaos hit the Dekalb County town as 3 adults and 7 children between the ages of 8 and 16 collided in a horrific 2-car crash.
An emergency helicopter landing zone was created as 4 people were airlifted out of the scene. Dekalb EMS and neighboring Putnam County EMS immediately joined forces to provide sufficient ambulances for the remaining 6 people, who were transported to Saint Thomas Dekalb Hospital. The hospital ER was at already capacity before this influx of patients. From lab techs to nursing managers to radiologists, staff members from across many hospital departments banded together and worked after-hours to get patients through the night and ensuing days.
Saint Thomas Dekalb Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Bradley Mullinax commented: "Last Wednesday showed the love, compassion, and selflessness that our community has for its people. It was amazing to see how many people came out to help and support the children and loved ones involved in this accident. I realize that an accident with 10 patients may not be a huge deal in a bigger town, but with only two EMS units in our county and an ER full of patients already, this was a HUGE event. Our hospital staff worked with the EMS system, 911 system, police, volunteer firefighters, local emergency personnel, Life Flight, Air Evac, Life Force, and so many others. I was truly impressed by the teamwork."
The best part of this story? Every patient involved in the wreck survived and all are recovering well. The crash that could have devasted this small town actually succeeded in bringing the community closer together.
Charlie Parker, who is Smithville's Fire Chief and Dekalb County's Emergency Management Director, summed up the crash scene like this: "We had a community gathering of sorts there. Many emergency personnel even came in off-duty. All around, the people of Smithville did an exceptional job."