CPR saves lives. AEDs save lives. Stop-the-bleeding training saves lives. The Heimlich maneuver saves lives. Tony Lowery saves lives!
Many people in Loudon County know Priority Ambulance training coordinator/shift supervisor Tony Lowery. In addition to his “priority” job with Priority, he also coordinates annual medical in-service training programs for all Loudon County schools, which is regarded as the most comprehensive in East Tennessee. He holds classes for approximately 500 staff members and students in health classes – four elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools.
There’s more. He does the same thing for all Lenoir City schools.
There’s more. He’s also worked with these schools on the response to COVID-19 – when to wear masks and what types of masks, face shields, wearing gloves, hand sanitizing, using Lysol wipes to clean surfaces and anything that staff and teachers touch. He says educators in Lenoir City schools are already using face shields and masks and all students in classes wear masks.
Lowery, 39, is an EMT Advanced and also a certified firefighter. He helps teach EMT classes for Priority employees and is the C Shift supervisor, supervising three stations 24/7 (Lenoir City, Loudon and Antioch-Greenback).
When he heads home, well, it can be even busier. His wife, Jodi, is principal at North Middle School in Loudon County and they have two children – son Nate, 5, and daughter Palmer, 3.
In 2017 his training at Eaton Elementary School paid off. Veteran teacher Melinda Moroz was teaching her first-grade class when a student, Colby Arwood, had a piece of hard candy lodge in his throat. Without thinking, she began performing the Heimlich maneuver. The first three times did not work. The fourth time did. She saved his life, thanks to training she’d learned from Priority Ambulance and Lowery. “I didn’t think about it,’ she said. “It was just second nature because of the training.”
Before joining Priority, Lowery worked for Rural Metro for nine years in Loudon County. He has been in Loudon County since the county awarded its 911 contract to the Knoxville-based company in 2014. Priority provides 911 emergency and non-emergency medical transport options in Knox, Loudon and Blount counties and has operations in 10 states with 3,000 employees and more than 500 ambulances.
Lowery was reared in Kingston, the son of Gary and Debbie Lowery. He comes by his life’s work thanks to his father, who today is a lieutenant with the Department of Energy’s Y-12 Fire Department. Before going to Y-12, Gary was a paramedic and EMS for Roane County and Loudon County EMS.
When he was only 16, Tony knew his future. “There was a really bad wreck in front of our house and Dad was at home. He went to help of course and I went with him,” Lowery says. “This is what Dad did. A girl was driving alone and hit a really big old oak tree. She was screaming. It was horrible and hectic, but Dad calmed her down. Stopped the bleeding. His calmness taught me a lot. Staying calm in our business is a major part of what we do.”
The girl had a broken leg and arm, multiple cuts and what Lowery says was a large hematoma on her forehead and a major laceration on her stomach. UT’s Lifestar flew her to UT Medical Center and she survived.
“That’s when I knew what I was going to do for a career,” Lowery says.
He describes his personality as being a people person. “I like the aspects of this job, the emergency part of it, or dealing with an elderly person and holding their hand and talking to them when they lose someone or someone gets hurt. I think Dad taught me the comforting aspect of the job. You can be a comforter and a first responder at the same time.”
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.