Randy Wilson: ‘It’s not a job, it’s who I am’

Tom KingHalls, Northeast Knox, Our Town Heroes

It’s not every day that you run across a public servant the likes of Randy Wilson. You just don’t. This is his life, and his life makes ours a whole lot better. To him, it’s never been a job. Ever.

Here is what he does for all of us:

  • A Rural Metro firefighter and paramedic for 20 years full-time and four years part-time from 1996 to 2020. He also catches shifts at AMR on ambulances as a paramedic.
  • He volunteers 100 hours a month as a reserve deputy for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, serving on patrol, on its Marine/dive team and as a member of the department’s Fire Investigator Unit. This is his 13th year at KCSO.
  • For 12 years he’s worked for Ballad Health as a paramedic at Bristol Motor Speedway’s infield during all NASCAR events where he’s available for the drivers and their crews.
  • In his spare time, he owns a lawn service company, Ruff-N-Tuff Lawn.

Wilson, 41, has spent the majority of his time at Rural Metro working at two stations. Today he’s in his eighth year at Station 34 in Gibbs and previously worked at Station 30 in Halls for 13½ years.

He was reared in Clinton, graduating from Clinton High School in 1996. At 14, he became an Explorer for Rural Metro through his Boy Scout troop. Soon after graduation Wilson began working part-time for Rural Metro and completed fire academy that same year. In 2002 he earned his certification as a paramedic at Roane State Community College.

Randy Wilson

About this career, he says: “I kinda knew this is what I wanted to do since I was a young kid. I was really a sick kid with asthma and allergies galore and spent a lot of time at ETCH (East Tennessee Children’s Hospital), and Dr. (Robert) Overholt and the nurses and people there took care of me. He’s still my hero today. They kept me going, and it just triggered something in my head about helping people and giving back like they were doing for me.”

Ask him if he loves his job and why, and he’s quick with the answer: “I do love it. No two days are ever the same. I like to be challenged. You never know what will be thrown at you when you head out on a call. We have to think on our feet and make split-second decisions, and those decisions better be right because it can alter someone’s life forever.

“I love the camaraderie and teamwork we have at Rural Metro. I don’t look at it as a job and never will. The saying that ‘If you love what you do then you’ll never work a day in your life’ is true. I don’t look at this like it’s a job. It’s who I am.”

He admits to having “OCD” (obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to cleanliness at home and at work. “Everything should be clean and neatly organized and everything has a place. I enjoy keeping our station clean. Our vehicles should always be clean. It’s an extension of Rural Metro and all of us and who we are to have the engines shiny when we’re out in public and presentable for the community. It’s about taking pride in our equipment and ourselves. It’s about being professional.”

In fact, Battalion Chief Brian Chesney says Wilson teaches an informal class for new recruits on how to wash the engines.

Chief Chesney has known Wilson since he was a young man. So, what can you tell us about this veteran today?

“We have watched him grow up to be an excellent firefighter, an EMT and then a paramedic. He’s one of those professionals on the scene of a fire, or accident or anything who you have confidence in and know that he’s always going to get the job done and make the right decisions.”

Editor’s Note: This is part of a weekly series – Our Town Heroes – highlighting Knoxville’s emergency-service/first responder professionals. If you have a suggestion about a first responder/emergency-services professional to feature, email Tom King or call him at 865-659-3562.

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