EMT made living room triage center to save neighbors from Tennessee tornado

(PUTNAM COUNTY, Tenn.) — When a deadly tornado tore through Putnam County, Tennessee, a local EMT “sprung into action,” saving neighbors’ lives in a makeshift triage center he set up in his living room, according to a state senator.

Several tornadoes ripped through the state in the early hours of March 3, wiping out homes, schools and churches.

Most of the fatalities were in hard-hit Putnam County, where children were among those killed.

As soon as the storm passed, Putnam County resident Darrell Jennings, an EMT and firefighter, put his years of training into action and began bringing injured neighbors into his home, State Senator Paul Bailey told ABC News on Tuesday.

Jennings, his wife and their three teenage children treated the injured in their living room, said Bailey.

“There were some children that were brought to him that were basically lifeless,” Bailey said. “He was able to do CPR … and get some vital signs going.”

One child brought to Jennings could not be saved, Bailey said.

Bailey said he’s known Jennings for years, and that the EMT recounted this story when Bailey and Tennessee Rep. Ryan Williams met with the devastated Putnam County community on Saturday.

Jennings’ “home just lost some windows but was still structurally sound,” Bailey said, though his “neighbor’s house, probably 50 feet away from his home, was totally destroyed.”

Jennings could not immediately be reached by ABC News on Tuesday.

“Darrell’s just one of many heroes,” the senator stressed. “He told about a lot of other people that were there bringing survivors to his home for him to be able to treat.”

“Putnam County, as well as all the other communities that were affected in Tennessee, it’s neighbor helping neighbor. Sometimes in our neighborhoods we don’t really know everyone, but yet neighbors sprung into action and began helping those that needed help,” Bailey said. “This is who we are in Tennessee. We’re known as the volunteer state and so many people have come and volunteered their time to help those that have experienced devastation.”

The senator also said Jennings’ story shows the importance of learning CPR and first-aid.

“I think that everyone needs to know basic CPR and they also need to have some knowledge of how to treat those that are wounded — especially if you live in an area that is prone to tornadoes,” he said.

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