Local News

Essential: Metro EMS Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith

Metro EMS Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith say the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely changed the way they work. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

{Editor’s Note: This is the third of a multi-part series highlighting all the essential folks in Moore County. Readers nominated each interview subject. To nominate someone, email editor@lynchburg-times.com.}

Sirens blaring … adrenaline pumping … usually the first thing on Moore County paramedics Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith’s minds is what they can do for their patient. Today, with the global COVID-19 pandemic, they’re forced to add another layer … protecting themselves.

As a result, the pair says they spend an extra two hours each day sanitizing and cleaning the entire ambulance and EMS building. At a call, they now wear masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields. Dispatchers also execute more advanced call screening.

“Used to be, we could rush in and be very aggressive,” Smith says. “Now, it takes a minute to suit up.”

The duo have worked together as paramedic partners for about a year.

Smith is a native of Moore County who still lives here with his wife, Belinda, and sons, Chandler and Cayden. He’s worked in emergency services for the past 28 years and currently serves as an advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) for Metro EMS.

Clark’s hails from Lincoln County. He’s a former critical care paramedic with Huntsville Med Flight, who’s worked in Moore County for the past six years. He lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Anita.

They both say they noticed fewer calls after Governor Bill Lee’s Stay at Home order but now calls seem to be picking up again. Smith says the majority are non-Coronavirus calls and more a result of the “spring trauma” season.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from folks being hurt at home doing projects,” he says. “We’re also getting calls from people who have one or two COVID-like symptoms that just want to be checked but most don’t want to be transferred to a hospital because of the risks.”

When asked about Moore County’s zero confirmed cases, both Smith and Clark agree that there are likely cases in Moore County that just haven’t been tested.

“They are hardly testing anybody,” Clark adds. “It’s also possible that someone’s had it but fully recovered.”

They also both fear that the worst is yet to come and encourage locals to stay diligent.

“Don’t relax,” Smith says. “Keep staying apart even though it’s hard.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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