KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Four Tennessee National Guard members received the Children’s Emergency Care Alliance of Tennessee’s Star of Life award for their efforts during a life-saving medical evacuation in East Tennessee last June.

Capt. Philip Webster, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Andrew Redley, Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Banta, and Sgt. Timothy Allen of the 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion saved a girl who was attacked by a bear in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Three of the four men traveled to Nashville to receive the award at the ceremony.

(Left to right) Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Banta, Capt. Philip Webster, and Sgt. Timothy Allen, receive a Star of Life award at the annual Children’s Emergency Care Alliance of Tennessee award ceremony in Nashville. (Photo via National Guard)

Every year, the Children’s Emergency Care Alliance of Tennessee holds a statewide award ceremony to honor the heroic actions of Emergency Medical Service personnel across the state. Recipients are usually chosen from one of the eight recognized EMS regions in Tennessee. A new category was added this year for organizations outside those EMS regions that support emergency rescue.

“We are proud of what we do here,” said Capt. Hulon Holmes, Facility Commander for Army Aviation Support Facility #2, in Louisville, Tenn. “We have the unique ability to help our fellow citizens in times of need and give back to the community. We don’t do it for the recognition, but it’s great to see our Guardsmen being rewarded for their efforts.”

“We wanted to broaden our reach of this award because there are some organizations, like the Tennessee National Guard, who routinely perform life-saving mission for citizens across the state every year,” said Oseana Bratton, Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center and Trauma Coordinator for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. “We wanted to present an award to these members whose quick actions saved a young girl’s life, and this new award allowed us to do just that.”

On June 18, 2021, a 16-year-old girl was attacked by a bear while sleeping in a hammock. She suffered serious injuries. Park Rangers responded and gave her first aid. The TN National Guard then received the request to help. A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter departed McGhee-Tyson Air Base to help airlift the victim from the remote area. The crew worked with the National Park Service to find and take the victim to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

Since 2016, the TN National Guard has performed 33 rescue missions in East Tennessee.