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EMS celebrating first year of service

Erwin Record Photo by Richard Rourk • Sgt. Patrick Kelley with the Unicoi County Emergency Medical Service comes from a long line of paramedics, including his father and uncle.

By Richard Rourk

Emergency medical technicians are on the front line of life-saving work, day in, day out.

In Unicoi County, EMTs, paramedics and all other ambulance personnel also had the difficult task of creating their service from scratch. 

Unicoi County Emergency Medical Service was established in 2020 has been saving lives since taking over ambulance services for the county. The staff of the county’s EMS works like a family, according to director Adam Copas.

“We have a wonderful team that takes pride in serving Unicoi County,” Copas said.

Copas is proud of his staff and leans on them to bring exemplary service to the county, especially his sergeant. 

“There are plenty of heroes that I get to serve with and Sgt. Patrick Kelley is just one of the many,” Copas said. 

“He exemplifies our core values and greatly serves this community,” Copas added.

Kelley spoke to The Erwin Record and revealed some insight into what it means to serve as a first responder. 

“When we can reverse a bad situation and allow someone to have more time with a family member, that is what keeps you going,” Kelley said. “It’s the ability to serve the community that makes it worthwhile.”

Kelley comes from a long line of EMTs and paramedics. 

“I’ve been with EMS for 15 years and before that, I served in the Marines and have been a firefighter and police officer,” Kelley said. 

“My father and uncle were both paramedics,  so I knew at a young age what I wanted to do,” he added. “I mean I grew up playing on the ambulance.”

For Kelley, Unicoi County EMS is a family of their own. 

“These are some of the best people that I have ever worked with in my career,” Kelley said. “Everyone is good at keeping up with their skills and their dedication to doing better. It’s a good family to work with.”

Serving the citizens of Unicoi County has been a welcomed challenge. 

“Walking in you had all eyes on you being an upstart,” Kelley said. “After serving the county for a year, it’s been a pleasure to serve the county. This county is home to the  nicest and most down-to-earth people.”