Program Chair Gayle Passovoy presented to Matt Henry of the Rutherford County Fire Rescue Department with the 2020 Firefighter of the Year Award on Dec. 2.
On Sept. 13, Henry had worked a wreck caused by a shooting on I-24. Almost immediately after that Henry was called to the site of Snell Shell Cave as two men had decided to go “caving” during a heavy rain, and they were trapped about 80 feet inside the cave. By the time he got the two men out, there was maybe a clearance of 2 feet as water had quickly filled the cave.
Henry is an alum of Blackman High School and MTSU. He started as a Volunteer Firefighter while in college, fell in love with the work and decided to make it his career. We were pleased Henry’s father Gary Henry was able to join in sharing this recognition – and jokingly learned all about what Henry did during the rescue. Also joining in the event was Capt. Adam Rose.
The Story on Matt Henry Rescue
On Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, Rutherford County Fire Rescue rescued two adult males stranded and surrounded by high, moving waters from Snail Shell Cave in the Rockvale area Sunday afternoon.
RCFR, Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services, and Rutherford County Sheriff's Office were dispatched just after noon Sunday to a report of two adult males stranded inside the cave. An hour prior, the two adults and two younger males entered the cave.
After the heavy rainfall, water running through the miles of the underground cave network quickly rose and cut off their exit. The two younger males were able to get out and call for help.
When RCFR arrived on scene, crews assessed the situation and decided to contact the Hamilton County Rescue Squad, who specializes in cave rescue. With the water continuing to rise at a rapid rate, it was determined that there was no time to waste. Three RCFR crew members in water rescue gear and attached to a safety rope were sent into the cave and able to make contact with the victims.
Off-duty RCFR personnel and Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department (MFRD) were called in for additional rescuer power. After setting up a rope system to aid in pulling the victims out, floatation devices with rope attached were deployed and allowed the victims to be safely guided back to dry land, one at a time.
After both victims were out of the cave, they were assisted back up the path and evaluated by RCEMS. Hamilton County was canceled, and MFRD, who was standing by as a backup team, was released from the scene. All victims and rescuers were safe with no injuries reported.
Community service is the lifeline of The Exchange Club. The Program of Service that most allows The Exchange Club of Murfreesboro to identify leaders in our community who accept the challenge of excellence in their position of EMS, Fire Rescue, and Law Enforcement Officer for the City of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.
For more information on The Exchange Club of Murfreesboro follow them on Facebook and visit NationalExchangeClub.org. The local Club was chartered in 1950.
Mission Statement: Exchange, inspiring communities to become better places to live. Core Values are: Family, Community, Country. The Club’s vision is: A strong America, safe communities, and unified people.