BURKE COUNTY – Firefighters, police and paramedics paid their respects to a fallen hero on Saturday as the body of Joey Autrey was brought home from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on Saturday.
Autrey, 38, passed away Friday. He had served in some capacity with Burke County Emergency Services since he was 17.
On April 4, Autrey was answering an emergency call and experienced chest pain while on the call.
“He went to a call for a sick person, not an emergency call,” Emergency Medical Services of Burke County Major Jason Black said. “He was driving and told (the other paramedic with him) ‘you might need to call someone to help unload the patient.’”
Black said Autrey told his coworker he was not feeling well before they had to stop the ambulance on the side of the road.
They were transporting the sick patient to Valdese Hospital before another ambulance was called for Autrey. Autrey was then transported to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
“He had an aortic aneurism which caused some massive heart damage,” Black said.
According to the Updates & Support For Joey Autrey Facebook page, Autrey passed away around 4:45 p.m.
The page was updated Saturday around 1 p.m. with a post from Charles Autrey, Joey Autrey’s brother.
“On the way back to Baptist Hospital to bring my brother home. Riding on 74 Engine 1, in the middle of an escort of 20 or more fire apparatus and other emergency vehicles. I grieve the loss of my brother, but I am comforted by the knowledge that Joey and I have many brothers.”
Members of Burke County’s fire, medical and public safety departments lined the route to South Sterling Street to honor the fallen comrade.
Autrey also served as a firefighter for the Icard, Lovelady and Salem Fire Departments.
“Joey was more than a paramedic or a firefighter, he was friends with everyone,” Black said. “Joey was one that did everything extremely well. He was very nice and compassionate and never wanted any accolades, just did his job.”
As all of Burke County Emergency Services staff grieved at the loss of one of its own, fellow paramedic Michael Bailey said Autrey is irreplaceable.
“Joey was a great friend, mentor and teacher,” Bailey said. “He was an excellent worker and always believed in doing the right thing.”
North Carolina State Employees Credit Union has a fund set to help offset costs of Autrey’s medical treatment.
Funeral arrangements for Autrey have not been completed yet.