Orlinda Husband/Wife Fire Chiefs To Retire
ORLINDA TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – After decades of service to the Robertson County community, first responders Dusty and Nancy Johnson (Orlinda Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief respectively) have decided that it’s time to retire.
Their service to the community started 33 years ago when Dusty joined the Orlinda Fire Department. 13 years later Dusty would be promoted to Fire Chief and there he would stay for the next 20 years. About the time that Dusty was promoted to Chief, his wife Nancy joined his side as a firefighter. Two years later she would be promoted to the role of Assistant Fire Fhief, a role she would serve by her husband’s side for 18 years.
“It is with profound sadness that the Orlinda City Council and I, along with the entire community, bid farewell to our long-term, retiring Fire Chief, Dusty Johnson,” said – Kevin Breeding, Orlinda City Manager. “Dusty has served Orlinda and its citizens for more than 20 years as Chief and 33 years as a firefighter and medical first responder. He has been a true leader and a tireless public servant who has made immense contributions to the community at great personal sacrifice. Throughout his years of dedicated service, he has shown an unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of our citizens.
“Dusty is known and respected by emergency service personnel across Robertson County and beyond, and I feel fortunate to have worked with him the last 20 years. In his time here Chief Johnson led with distinction, honor, and unwavering passion for emergency fire and medical services. We look forward to his remaining time with the department and hopefully to his continued involvement on a limited basis as we all work to build a new future for the Orlinda Fire Department. We wish Dusty nothing but happiness as he enters the retirement phase of his life- no one deserves it more.”
“Orlinda City Clerk and Assistant Fire Chief Nancy Johnson’s retirement will also leave a giant hole in the fabric of our community, the operation of City Hall, and the Orlinda Fire Department. Having worked side by side with Nancy for 23 years, I will personally feel the pain of her absence in City Hall and the community will miss her hard work and dedication to the City. As the only full-time employee in City Hall for over two decades, she has a depth of operational knowledge that will take a long time to rebuild. But like Chief Johnson, it will be her work as Assistant Fire Chief that will leave the biggest void in our beloved community.
“Nancy brought not only more than 30 years of experience and expertise to the Fire Department but also a sense of compassion that is critical to a lot of the calls they make. Nancy felt love and compassion for the people in their time of need. Those qualities, combined with her knowledge and skills, made her a vital part of the Fire Department and one that will surely be missed. City Council and I, along with all the residents of Orlinda, wish her nothing but happiness as she moves on to a new chapter in her life.” – Kevin Breeding, Orlinda City Manager.
“It’s been a pleasure to do the Chief job for Orlinda for the past 20 years. I hope I’ve improved a lot of things. I met a lot of people, served a lot of people, made a lot of friends and I just hope everybody appreciates what I’ve done.” Dusty Johnson
Smokey Barn News asked Chief Dusty if any particular call over the years stood out in his mind. “Yes,” Dusty told Smokey Barn News. “There was one call, just a couple of years ago.” Dusty was called out to a crash on Interstate 65 back in June of 2021. “It was a rollover.” A 37-year-old male was injured but in stable condition.
While crews (including Dusty) were finishing up at the first crash site, squealing tires and the sound of crashing vehicles drew their attention. Two more vehicles had just crashed less than 100 feet away.
Firefighters with the Orlinda Fire Department, the Robertson County Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Robertson, and Sumner Sheriff’s Deputies, with Robertson and Sumner County EMS all ran on foot to assist the victims. “We all ran down there,” said Fire Chief Dusty Johnson.
“It was a terrible scene,” Johnson said. “In the wake of the traffic from the first crash, two more vehicles lost control, both rolling multiple times, Johnson said. One of the vehicles (a passenger car with two adults and three young children onboard) was in rough shape. “Everyone surrounded the vehicle and carefully started removing the family. All three children (in the back seat) were injured. One of the children, an 11-year-old boy, was critical. Dad was also in critical condition. He was transported to Skyline Medical Center in Nashville,” Johnson said.
According to Robertson County EMS, a 37-year-old female (the mother) was transported to Vanderbilt in serious but stable condition. According to Johnson, she faired the best.
Two of the children, ages 6 and 9 (one in a child safety seat) had serious injuries but both were able to communicate with their mother, Johnson said. They were both transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville via ground in serious but stable condition.
The 11-year-old boy was unresponsive but had a heartbeat. “After I handed him off to my team, they realized his heart stopped,” Johnson said. “That’s when Nancy Johnson and Aden Miller (both Orlinda Firefighters) began ventilating the child and started CPR. A nurse on his way to the airport stopped and assisted with the child. “The three (working together) brought the boy back!,” Johnson said. CPR continued until LifeFlight arrived and the boy was flown to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville.
“It was a multi-agency team effort,” said Fire Chief Johnson. “Everybody made an enormous impact for that family on a terrible crash. EMA, the THP, my team (Orlinda Firefighters) the Deputies, EMS, they all did a great job.”
Recently Dusty got a chance to meet the boy. “He didn’t remember much of that day but he was doing great! His dad was very grateful,” Dusty said.
Dusty said this call stood out because everyone survived. “It was a great outcome,” Dusty said.” In a bit of irony, if everyone hadn’t already been out on the first call, Dusty says the likelihood is they would have never made it in time to save the boy.
Dusty and his team were awarded the “Star of Life” award for their live safety work on that day.
Firefighting is apparently in the blood, Dusty and Nancy’s son Dusty Johnson Jr. is also a Firefighter serving both Springfield and, often serving by his parent’s side.
Dusty and Nancy’s last day will be July 31. Needless to say, Orlinda has an opening for a fire chief if you know anyone. SEE JOB DESCRIPTION HERE