Halls Guy Corey Dantzler: 11 Years at Rural Metro

Tom KingHalls, Our Town Heroes

The Halls Business & Professional Public Association (HBPA) has honored him as its Firefighter of the Year. This native of Halls and graduate of Halls High School began his career at Rural Metro Fire as an Explorer in 2012 and then as a live-in firefighter for two years at Station 30 in Halls.

Corey Dantzler

Today, Corey Alan Dantzler, 29, is in his 11th year with Rural Metro as a firefighter/paramedic at Station 27 in the Forks of the River in Strawberry Plains. He’s also spent time working at Station 30, Station 34 (Gibbs), Stations 3 (Powell), 36 (Emory Road at Bishop), and Station 16 on Westland Drive.

Shortly after graduating from Halls High in 2012, he earned his emergency medical technician (EMT) chops at Walters State Community College and a few years later he graduated from paramedic school at Roane State Community College while working at Rural Metro.

Dantzler treasures his life in Halls, growing up and being educated there and making lifelong friends. “I loved those years and it’s a big part of who I am and why,” he says.

He knew in high school this was where his life was headed. Public service in the emergency services business is in the Dantzler DNA. In 2017 his father, Dale, retired after 27 years with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office as a major crimes detective. Younger brother Adam is a Knoxville Fire Department firefighter/EMT at Station 5, also a Halls guy, Halls High class of 2017, who began his fire career with Rural Metro. Corey had a grandfather who was a volunteer firefighter in London, Kentucky.

His wife of four years, Katelyn, is not in the emergency business but she is a nurse practitioner at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. They are busy at work and busy at home, with twin boys Luke and Levi, 3½, keeping them hopping. Katelyn is a Karns girl and they met while four-wheeling with friends. He’s already had his boys visiting him at the stations.

Corey says his father got this ball rolling. “When I was 14 and a ninth grader at Halls Dad took me down to Station 30 to meet the firefighters there and to talk with them about the Explorer post,” he says. “So I joined and I’ve been around the veterans, the fire trucks and the business ever since. I started getting trained, making sure the medical equipment was ready and I even went on fire calls to help, but I could only fight from outside of the structures.”

He says he did a lot of “gopher” work, but he also was learning what was on the fire trucks and how things worked. “Riding on the fire trucks is cool, a rush, but I quickly realized there’s a lot more to this job. And I had a lot of veteran mentors at Station 30 who educated and trained me. Those guys are my heroes.”

He rattled off the names of some of his heroes who were at Station 30: Billy Kear, now the west battalion chief on Parkside Drive; Ken Tuggle, now training chief; Scott Roberts, now north battalion chief; Robby Nix, now an EMS captain; Tim Hancock, logistics captain; and Brian Graham, captain. “That’s a few of them but there were many,” he added.

There are other Halls connections as well. Blake Welch and Billy Winship were best friends in high school and they graduated together from Halls. They’re still best friends today, and all work for Rural Metro. Blake is a firefighter/EMT at Station 25 in Mascot and Winship is a lieutenant at Station 36 between Halls and Powell.

Dantzler says at first the firefighting was the draw, but that soon changed. “Once I was an EMT I started liking the medical part of the job and that became more important to me when I became a paramedic. The more I do the medical work the more I like it,” he says. It’s worth mentioning here that upwards of 80% of the calls Rural Metro responds to are medical-related.

Loving the medical and life-saving aspects of the job led to him becoming certified in specialty and technical rescue, swiftwater rescue, an open water diver and being a maintenance and recovery diver. He also can handle high-rope rescue, trench rescue, vehicle rescues and confined space rescue.

He has a simple and succinct answer about why he loves his work: “The people I work with every day and the mentors I have had and still have today.”

Tom King has been the editor of newspapers in Texas and California and also worked in Tennessee and Georgia.

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