Family, friends, first responders pay respect to Knox County ‘Hiking Paramedic’

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Family, friends and local first responders gathered at Bridges Funeral Home to remember and honor a Knox County paramedic.

Harold ‘Hal’ Thompson died Friday while hiking with his brother near the Greenbriar Ranger Station.

According to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, he experienced cardiac distress and wasn’t able to be saved.

Family and friends said Thompson was known as the ‘hiking paramedic.’

If he wasn’t on the job, he would most likely be hiking or spending time with his family.

A sergeant in the Army, Blake Thompson, Hal Thompson’s son, said hiking with his father could be frustrating.

He said he was used to marching through and getting to the objective as quickly as possible.

“My dad was the opposite. He would hike, I think I paced it just shy of 100 yards, and he would stop. He would point something out on the trail, and it drove me up a wall, but I think when I’m on the trails I’m going to miss that. It drove me nuts, but I’m going to miss it,” Blake Thompson said.

He said his dad was was a beacon of hope and someone anyone could rely on.

As people walked to pay their respects to the Thompson family, a slideshow played, displaying photos of Hal Thompson spending time with his family, hiking and working.

Coworkers of Thompson said that he is a mentor that will sorely be missed.

“Hal approached every situation it seemed like as a human first and then secondary as a paramedic. He tried to make sure, you know, he was always there with empathy. Always took the person into consideration and tried to give them the best care he could,” Nathan Patterson, a paramedic with the Knoxville Fire Department, said.

Patterson said Hal Thompson shaped him into the kind of paramedic he is today, but didn’t realize it until years later.

The service ended with the honor guard folding an American Flag, handing it to Thompson’s family.

Then, first responders turned their radios up to hear Hal Thompson’s last service call.

“We thank you for your dedication to citizens of Knox County. As of today, his call line of 706 will be retired of outstanding honor. Although you’re gone from here on in, you will never be forgotten. Hal, your work here is done. Let be the serve and we’ll take it from here,” dispatch said.

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