First Responders Award Ceremony Held Wednesday

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security hosted the annual First Responder Awards ceremony Wednesday. The event held in Conservation Hall at the Tennessee Residence honors those who have­­ dedicated their lives for the safety and security of Tennesseans.

Governor Bill Lee, First Lady Maria Lee, Commissioner Jeff Long and State Senator Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) joined honorees, their family members, and agency representatives to recognize first responders as well as the recipients of the “Three Stars of Tennessee Award.”

Honorees are nominated by his or her peers and represent the 11 homeland security districts, law enforcement agencies, and emergency responders throughout Tennessee, as well as state agencies. 

“This annual event is very important to us,” Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long said.  “We remain indebted to the men and women first responders who work every day to keep the people of Tennessee safe.  Our hearts go out to the families who have had loved ones make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. We are proud to honor them with these awards. Important events take place at the Governor’s Residence, and we appreciate Governor Lee allowing our department to continue to host this special ceremony.” 

This year, 24 first responders were recognized with First Responder Awards and five individuals were honored with the “Three Stars of Tennessee Award.” 

“Three Stars of Tennessee Award” honorees are those who gave their lives in the line of duty.  “These courageous individuals gave their lives to keep their communities safe,” Commissioner Long said.

The First Responder Awards ceremony has been a long standing tradition in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. State Senator Becky Massey spearheaded legislation to recognize law enforcement, firefighters and medical first responders who were either killed or suffered a career ending injury in the line of duty. The law (TCA 4-1-501) to allow for the “Three Stars of Tennessee Award” passed during the 2014 legislative session.  Governor & First Lady Lee, Senator Massey along with Commissioner Long made the presentations to “Three Stars of Tennessee Award” honorees and the first responder award recipients.

Here are the Three Stars of Tennessee Award Honorees: 

Sergeant Steve Hinkle
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office

Zachary “Zach” Pruitt
Paramedic, Jackson Medical Center EMS

Officer Nicholas Scott Galinger
Chattanooga Police Department

District Fire Chief Jason Byrd
Fayette County Fire Department

Officer John R. Anderson
Metropolitan Nashville Police Department

First Responder Recipients
Dispatcher Jessica Donihe, Bristol Police Department
Investigator Wendy Zolkowski, Oak Ridge Police Department
Officer Ethan Grantham, Knoxville Police Department
Captain Hank Smith, Bradley County Fire and Rescue
Firefighter Zakk Gilreath, Bradley County Fire and Rescue
Lieutenant Aaron Hicks, Bradley County Fire and Rescue
Lieutenant C.J. Davis, Bradley County Fire and Rescue
Dispatch Supervisor Becky Waller, Bradley County Fire and Rescue
Timothy L. Booher, Paramedic and Emergency Management Coordinator, Pickett County EMS
Chief Ronnie Hummel, Firefighter and First Responder, East Clay County Fire and Rescue
Captain Michael Wilkerson (retired), Nashville Fire Department
Officer Brandan Hendricks and Officer Shavell Lucas, Clarksville Police Department
Sergeant Shanna Grice, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office
Director Johnny Cheatwood, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office
Director Larry Glass, Lawrence County Emergency Medical Service
Officer Brandon Wheeler, Dyersburg Police Department
Deputy Whitney Cobb, Madison County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Brandon Massey, Madison County Sheriff’s Office
Shelby County Fire Department and Millington Fire Department
Colonel Keith Watson, Memphis Police Department
Special Agent Andrew Graves, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
Trooper Jon Judge, Tennessee Highway Patrol

Here are the 2019 “Three Stars of Tennessee Award” Bios:

Sergeant Steve Hinkle, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office (posthumous)
On Feb. 23, 2019 Sergeant Steve Hinkle responded to a call for a welfare check at 3606 Highway 11 West. As officers approached the residence, they were met with gunfire from the occupant. Officers took cover and attempted to establish communication with the individual inside, but they were met with gunfire a second time. Sgt. Hinkle was struck during the exchange and quickly transported to Bristol Regional Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. Three days later Sgt. Hinkle succumbed to those injuries. Sgt. Hinkle served with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office for 27 years.
End of Watch: Feb. 26, 2019

Zachary “Zach” Pruitt, Paramedic, Jackson Medical Center EMS (posthumous)
On the evening of Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 Paramedic Zach Pruitt was caring for and transporting a patient from a hospital in Jackson, Tn. to another facility in Nashville, TN. During the transport, the ambulance was involved in a motor vehicle accident in which the patient as well as Mr. Pruitt lost their lives. Mr. Pruitt had recently graduated paramedic school and it was clear to those he worked with that he loved what he did to help others every day.
End of Watch: Nov. 30, 2018

Officer Nicholas Scott Galinger. Chattanooga Police Department (posthumous)
Nicholas Scott Galinger, 38, moved to Chattanooga in August of 2018 to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer. He graduated from the Chattanooga Police Department Academy in January 2019. On Feb. 23, 2019, Officer Galinger and his field training partner were dispatched to the 2900 block of Hamill Road, in the Hixson Area of Chattanooga, to check a manhole cover that had water overflowing from it due to heavy rain. Officer Galinger was out of his patrol unit checking the manhole when he was struck by a passenger vehicle. His partner administered immediate care while summoning addition help. Officer Galinger was transported to the Erlanger Trauma Center in critical condition where he died a short time later.
End of Watch: Feb. 24, 2019

District Fire Chief Jason Byrd, Fayette County Fire Department (posthumous)
On Feb. 18, 2019, District Chief (Station 14) Jason Byrd and his station responded to a fire at a two-story single family home. Chief Byrd was assisting in deploying a ladder so firefighters could gain access to the roof of the home. While holding the ladder, he suffered an apparent heart attack. Within 15 seconds of the medical emergency, responders administered advanced life support measures to Chief Byrd and then transported him to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Chief Byrd, 42, had been with the Hickory Withe Fire Department since 1997, and he transitioned into Fayette County in 2005. He served as the chief of District 14 in Fayette County for 12 years.
End of Watch: Feb. 18, 2019

Officer John R. Anderson, Metro Nashville Police Department (posthumous)
On July 4, 2019, Central Precinct Officer John Anderson lost his life when his marked police car was violently struck on the driver’s side by a 2016 Ford Fusion being driven by a 17-year-old without a license. The 17-year-old was treated, released and arrested for vehicular homicide. Minutes before the collision, another officer had attempted to stop the driver of the Fusion, but she accelerated and he did not pursue. Officer Anderson spent his entire four year career at the MNPD Central Precinct. He was a proud member of the department’s Drill & Ceremony Team, and he was also a bagpiper. Officer Anderson, a 2013 graduate of Western Kentucky University, was the father of an 18-month-old son, and he was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
End of Watch: July 4, 2019

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.


North Hawthorne Street Closure Extended Through Tuesday

Upcoming Street Closings Announced

Whitfield Deputies Train For Safer High-Speed Chases

Construction on North Hawthorne Street between Wilder Street and Elmendorf Street, originally scheduled to end Monday afternoon, will continue until Tuesday. North Hawthorne is expected to ... (click for more)

Here are upcoming street closings: Thursday: TOPS Health and Safety Fair - The north and southbound right lanes of Broad Street will be closed between W 11th Street and W 12th ... (click for more)

During August the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office - working with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) - had the opportunity to provide High Speed Track Training for the entire ... (click for more)


North Hawthorne Street Closure Extended Through Tuesday

Construction on North Hawthorne Street between Wilder Street and Elmendorf Street, originally scheduled to end Monday afternoon, will continue until Tuesday. North Hawthorne is expected to reopen at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. This is due to new gas line installation. View CDOT's map of event and road closures for full details of these activities and other projects underway in our ... (click for more)

Upcoming Street Closings Announced

Here are upcoming street closings: Thursday: TOPS Health and Safety Fair - The north and southbound right lanes of Broad Street will be closed between W 11th Street and W 12th Street from 9AM thru 2PM on Thursday, September 19th to host TVA's TOPS Health and Safety Fair. Ales on 8th - W 8th Street between Pine Street and Chestnut Street will be closed ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Tony Bigoms Found Guilty Of 2014 Premeditated 1st Degree Murder And Abuse Of A Corpse; Gets Life In Prison For The Murder

A Chattanooga man was sentenced to life in prison when the jury found him guilty after his six-day murder retrial. Following closing arguments, the jury was sent back to a secluded room, where they came to a guilty verdict for the defendant. Tony Edward Bigoms murdered Dana Wilkes in 2012 and dismembered her corpse, which was found on the banks of the Chicamauga river without ... (click for more)

CFD Extinguishes Small Fire Outside Steak ‘N Shake On Hixson Pike Monday Evening

Chattanooga Fire Department's Engine #19 and Squad #19 responded to the Steak ‘n Shake, 5118 Hixson Pike, on a small outside fire Monday evening. "It appeared to be started by a discarded cigarette that spread to the surrounding mulch and then on to the building, officials said. "The fire was extinguished quickly and there was no damage to the interior." CFD crews used ... (click for more)


We Remember Sept. 11th

Our nation was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001 and our world changed. Muslim terrorists called al-Qaeda, with training camps all around the world were responsible for the death of the more than 3,000 victims. This is an enemy unlike any we have ever faced. There are multiple countries, multiple fronts and multiple threats. This enemy is committed to the absolute destruction of the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Total Rest May Help

Roy Exum will be on vacation this week as he recovers from a recent surgery. His doctors and his close friends believe in him and urge him to “take some time for himself.” It is believed "total rest" will be greatly beneficial in the healing process. He greatly appreciates the emails and the telephones calls has received and appreciates your kindness. He hopes to return ... (click for more)