By CLINT FOSTER
Being an emergency room doctor can be a thankless job. The hours are long and often late at night, the jobs are difficult and there’s no place like an ER to see some of the craziest things this side of an episode of one of television’s many hit hospital shows.
But last week, one local ER doctor’s service went anything but unnoticed.
Dr. John Jones, ER director and Chief of Staff at Palo Pinto General Hospital, received the Hal’s Heroes Award from famous WBAP radio personality Hal Jay for the doctor’s exemplary service. He was honored at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 11, along with multiple 9-11 first responders, because of the profound impact he has had on the community, especially Jay.
About seven years ago, Jay was at Possum Kingdom Lake when he suffered a heart attack and was rushed to PPGH for treatment. Jones and his emergency staff took care of Jay, giving him medicine to bust his clot, and sent him to Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth where he made a full recovery. Jay has not forgotten that day in Palo Pinto County.
“Dr. Jones was the first doctor I saw. I’ll never forget that day or his face,” Jay said. “As far a I can remember, him and his staff were spot on with what they needed to do. [They] got me stabalized... and he and the entire staff kind of held my hand and reassured me through all of it.
“When the Hal’s Heroes promotion came up at WBAP, our promotions department wanted to know if I had a personal hero. Dr. John Jones came immediately to mind. Without hesitation, I called him to see if he would be interested in a day of recognition at Texas Motor Speedway.”
Jones said the morning show host has been very gracious and appreciative of the care he received ever since then. This award is just the most recent showing of Jay’s gratitude.
“I’m very honored,” Jones said of receiving the award. “I’m very humbled. This is part of my job; it’s what we do and prepare for every day. There were multiple other healthcare professionals involved in his care that day. I told him I’d be happy to represent everyone who took care of him that day including the [Emergency Medical Services] workers as well as the nurses and hospital staff who were involved in his care.”
Modest as he is, it was Dr. Jones who stood at the speedway last Wednesday and received a framed certificate to commemorate his status as a “hero.”
“It was a great ceremony,” he said. “It was very well done. The folks at Texas Motor Speedway were very professional and very gracious in pouring out their appreciation to first responders in our area.”
Although the ceremony was wonderful, the “cherry on top” was that after Jones received his award he was given permission to “operate a motor vehicle,” as they say on containers of prescription medication.
After a brief class, Jones got to drive 10 laps around TMS in an authentic NASCAR stock car. Needless to say, he had a blast.
“It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he said emphatically. “I’m not necessarily a racing or NASCAR fan, but after getting behind the wheel and driving I certainly see it for what it is, and it was a very thrilling experience for me.”
PPGH CEO Harris Brooks joked that he was jealous of Jones’ opportunity to drive the race car, but said in all seriousness that he was very proud of his service.
“He’s a fantastic doctor that is really committed to the community,” Brooks said. “He does a phenomenal job running our emergency department as the ER director. He really cares about the patients, the hospital and this community.”
Despite all of the honoring and kind words thrown in his direction, Jones remains humble and is quick to deflect credit.
“It was a team effort in taking care of [Jay],” he said. “Several other people certainly deserve the honor as well. When he came in, no one was really aware of who he was, so we treated him just like we treat everyone else. We took good care of him and we certainly want that to be our practice with everybody that comes in to the