When it comes to emergency first responder work, fighting a hot fire, seeing someone die in a wreck or a body after a drowning, Everette Garrison Parker III is just getting started. He’s only 25 and growing in his career at Knox County Rescue (KCR) and Rural Metro as a firefighter.
This father of three young kids is already seeing and experiencing tragedy up close. Not long ago a 16-year-old girl died in a car accident on Millertown Pike. “It was so sad to see what it did to her father and it was a senseless loss,” Parker said. “I left that accident with three messages for young people and for everyone. Don’t drink and drive. Wear your seatbelt and no texting on cell phones.”
Recently, he was at Mead’s Quarry assisting KCR divers recovering the body of a 14-year-old boy with autism. “We were told he slipped off a rock and fell in and he couldn’t swim. He was so innocent looking and that one has been real difficult for me.”
Parker is Knoxville right down to his feet, reared in the same house where his parents, Everette II and Wendy, still live on East Oldham Ave. He’s a Fulton High graduate who played football and wrestled for the Falcons. His best friend at Fulton was a young lady – Jessica Tarver. Today, she is his wife and mother of their kids – Garrison, 5, Andy, 4, and daughter Tarver, 2.
His younger sister, Laura, 20, has Down syndrome. She lives at home with Wendy while Parker’s father has been working at C&S Refinishing & Upholstery on Old Broadway for 40-plus years.
Before the question could be asked, he said: “Guess where Jessica works? She’s a special education assistant at Christenberry Elementary. To me that’s real special,” he said, thinking about his sister.
In these times, very few young people are volunteering for or becoming emergency service professionals, be it fire, police or KCR. What piqued Parker’s interest?
“When I was 15 a friend’s house across the street caught fire and I saw how the firefighters worked together to fight the fire and it was cool,” he said. He was already a Boy Scout and soon joined the KFD Explorer Post. “I guess you could say this work kinda just took ahold of me,” he said.
Three years later he left the Explorer unit and in early 2019 began volunteering at KCR. He was soon hired by Rural Metro and graduated from its Fire Academy in January 2020. He also is an EMT Basic. At KCR, where he works around 56 hours a week, he supports the Heavy Rescue and Water Team units and responds to accidents and other calls. Two weeks ago, he left home on Thursday and didn’t come back until Monday, sleeping at the stations.
To Parker, this is his second family. “I never had a brother and now I have a lot of them. I love the camaraderie, the brotherhood, and being with people who share the same aspirations I have of helping people when they need it … and don’t forget the thrills and the adrenalin rushes too. That’s part of it,” he said. “I have a career and for that I’m thankful.”
KCR Deputy Chief John Whited is happy to have Parker on the team. “Everett started as a volunteer and worked hard to get all the required training and certifications to get hired full time,” he said. “It takes a huge effort to gain the qualifications he has, much less having three young children to help raise. I am very proud of him and his accomplishments.”
Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers. He writes this Monday column – Our Town Heroes –for KnoxTNToday.com. Suggest future stories at email@example.com or call him at 865-659-3562.