By Gary WIlson
Hickory Nut Gorge EMS was started in the early seventies by Dr. William Burch and Mr. David Toney. Dr. Burch served initially as Medical Advisor and David served from the beginning until his retirement as Chief of HNGEMS. Until Paramedic Service came to Rutherford County, HNGEMS was the only EMS service that served this part of Rutherford County. For years HNGEMS operated out of David Toney’s and his wife Joyce’s home. When the EMS building that is located beside the library was constructed, HNGEMS finally had their own facility along with a County Paramedic unit that was stationed there. Joyce Toney was the first paid employee of HNGEMS and served in that position until her retirement. It was not unusual in the “old days” for the EMS Crew to go into the woods with the fire department on a rescue, bring the patient out and transport them to the nearest hospital. When Paramedic Service came to the Gorge along with the MAMA Rescue Helicopter from MIssion Hospital in Asheville we saw a tremendous improvement in on scene care and transport. The citizens of the Gorge now have the same level of care that all residents of the County enjoy and it continues to evolve as most fire departments in the Gorge now run Medical Responder response along with HNGEMS and RCEMS.
Gary Wilson was Security Chief for Rumbling Bald Resort from Dec 1971 until he retired in May 2011. He continues to work there part time. He was a member of HNGEMS from 1982-2001 during which time he Training Officer and an EMT instructor. Except for a one year period of time, Gary has been Chief of Fairfield Mountains Fire Department since its inception March, 1981.
Photo submitted by Amy Dalton