HOMETOWN HERO l Responders save man counting minutes on life-dependent machine

Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 2:11 PM EST
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Chad Smarr was sitting at the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department last Sunday night as snow and ice covered the roads.

“Sitting down here at the station on standby for the weather and everything,” said Smarr. “Chief Nutter called me.”

Chief Robbie Nutter who is also a Kanawha County dispatcher needed Smarr’s help.

“Myself and any other officer and firefighter here would tell you, [when] we need something done, we call Chad,” Chief Nutter said. “He is our go-to, he is highly dependable.”

A man was being transported between CAMC in Charleston and a hospital in Columbus. His life depended on a cardiac machine to keep him alive but the battery on that machine was dying as the weather conditions forced emergency crews to stop at Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant.

The only batteries for his machine were back at his home in Charleston, an hour away.

That is when Chief Nutter called his firefighter, Chad Smarr, for help because all responders we all dealing with accidents in the snow and ice.

“We weren’t have any luck because everyone was busy everyone was maxed out because of the weather,” said Chief Nutter.

Smarr jumped in the truck and got the batteries. His job was to meet Mason County Deputy Director Matthew Shell halfway in Buffalo in Putnam County. Shell had helped coordinate the drop-off.

“I knew that there was a sense of urgency but I did not know how urgent,” said Shell. “Then I quickly found out that that was not the case.”

When they met, Shell had an hour to get the batteries to Pleasant Valley Hospital 30 miles away. Along Route 35 that night multiple accidents slowed down traffic. A portion of the road was shut down for 2 miles and Shell drove on the opposite side of the road in order to bypass the accident.

Then Chief Nutter got a call.

“The hospital called and told us he made it with 11 minutes to spare,” said Chief Nutter.

Both Shell and Smarr had to drive slow enough to be safe in the ice, and quick enough to make it.

“You want to get there safely and as quickly as possible,” Smarr said. “If I would have wrecked or anything he would not have gotten the batteries.”

Both Smarr and Shell received this week’s hometown hero awards for their efforts traveling against snow and ice, accidents, and the clock to save a man’s life.

“To be dropped off at a hospital and just sitting there watching a battery knowing this might be my final minutes,” said Smarr. “That is what kept going through my mind.”

Chief Nutter said this was a big team effort across county lines, between Mason County and Kanawha County responders.

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