Samuel Draper Smith



Samuel Draper Smith began his service with Civil Defense approximately four decades ago as a volunteer while the early development of the organization in Putnam County was taking place. At that time, the training was minimal and the emergency equipment was almost nonexistent -- just a handful of men and women with a deep desire to help people.

During the 1960s, as the organization grew to encompass an Auxiliary Police unit and a Mounted Police unit, Smith became the chief of both of those units and was instrumental in their growth and development.

In the early 1970s, Smith was promoted to Operations Officer for Civil Defense and was very active in the emergency response to the April, 1974 tornadoes that killed 13 and injured over 50 people in Putnam County. Immediately following that tragedy, Smith and then Civil Defense Director Col. Maurice Haste initiated the partial funding, purchase, and placement of emergency alert monitors in all of the schools in Cookeville and Putnam County. Alert monitors have since been placed in all of the nursing homes. Their desire was to see that maximum amount of warning time possible was given to those who were the most vulnerable and needed help in protecting themselves.

Smith was appointed as Civil Defense Director-Coordinator on August 1, 1976, on a half-time basis. Soon after, the need for a rural fire service was brought to light, and a committee formed to begin its formation. Smith served on that committee; and as the department began to take shape, he and several other volunteers responded to fires with nothing but fire extinguishers and back packs with hand pumps. No protective clothing was available at that time, and many times Smith returned to his office following a fire with small holes burned all in his shirt and his boots black and charred. As fire trucks were obtained and equipped, Smith was appointed as the first Fire Chief of the Putnam County Fire Department, still at that time a totally volunteer position.

In the late 1970s, Smith was instrumental in obtaining a half federally funded Emergency Operations Center built in conjunction with the Cookeville Police Department which now comprises the Public Safety Building. At that time, it was the only facility of its kind between Nashville and Knoxville. The Emergency Operations Center would house the heads of government, both Cookeville and Putnam County, in the even of a disaster requiring around-the-clock emergency response operations.

On August 1, 1982 Smith became the first full-time, professional Civil Defense Director-Coordinator of the Cookeville-Putnam County Civil Defense. During the 1980s, Smith served on the 911 and E911 established boards and also the Local Emergency Planning Committee, mandated by the Federal SARA Title III, dealing with emergency response and evacuation planning in the event of a fixed-facility release of hazardous materials. He also completed the required training and became State certified to teach Search Operations and Hazardous Materials for First Responders, and trained many other emergency response workers in the Upper Cumberland area in these fields. He also completed training in other areas of emergency management and response to include Radiological Monitoring, Shelter Management, Extrication, Managing Volunteer Resources, Incident Command, Leadership and Communications, Finance and Budgeting, Emergency Planning and Exercise Design.

During the early 1990s, Smith coordinated the outdoor warning siren system now in place in Cookeville, placed pagers in the radio and television stations desiring them, and initiated the investigation of the Cablevision Interrupt capability now in place through Cookeville Cablevision. All of which are for the early and massive warning in the event of an emergency threatening the citizens of this county.

During Smiths' Directorship, he has made numerous public information-education presentations to schools, churches, civic and service clubs, agencies, nursing homes, and business and industrial concerns to impart emergency awareness and preparedness information to them. It is his desire to help people mitigate their dangers at home and work and be better prepared to protect themselves during an emergency or disaster situation.

Since the Rescue Squad is a unit of Civil Defense, Smith has responded with them; and over the years, worked side by side with all of the men and women in the squad. Their operations include extrication calls (removing victims from wrecked automobiles or farm machinery -- once even a little boys' head from between two stair railings and a mans' finger from his gas tank); repelling calls (vertical-ascent rescues for someone who has fallen over a bluff); cave rescue calls; search calls (usually a small child missing or a disoriented elderly person who's wandered off); flooding calls (pumping water out of peoples basements); generator calls (supplying auxiliary power to persons on life-support machines during power failures); severe weather calls (severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, ice storms, and even one blizzard); hazardous materials calls (fixed-facility releases, transportation accidents, or merely the discovery of something potentially hazardous in some ones shed); ambulance escort calls in inclement weather; and downed aircraft calls in Putnam and surrounding counties through Mutual Aid.

Smith has devoted countless hours to saving lives and protecting the property of the citizens of Cookeville and Putnam County -- many of which were volunteer and outside his administrative duties as Director-Coordinator of Civil Defense. An untold number of missions lasted from all night on a hazardous materials call up to 36 hours straight during the Blizzard of '93. His loyalty and devotion to this county is selfless; and the example he has set for the other members of the organization, both professionally and personally, is above reproach. He is loved, admired, and respected by everyone who knows him and many others who only know of him. Upon his passing, his call number 530 will be permanently retired by Cookeville-Putnam County Civil Defense in memorial to him. He is deserving of any honor or tribute paid him for his extensive public service to the community.