By Amy Wenk

Dr. Matthew Bitner
Dr. Matthew Bitner (at right) talks to 911 operator Ben Brannon.

Dr. Matthew Bitner, medical director for Sandy Springs Fire Rescue, is used to moving around.

As a child, Bitner said, he relocated 26 times. His father was a “corporate troubleshooter” for Miller Brewing Company, he said.

“We went plant to plant getting them out of operational difficulties,” Bitner said. “I’ve lived as far north as Syracuse, as far south as Miami and as far west as L.A.”

As an adult, the 33-year-old splits his time between four cities working in the hospital emergency room, teaching medical students and advising public safety agencies on emergency response.

“It is a lot of shuffling and juggling times,” said Bitner who was recently was awarded the Dennis Lockridge Pioneer Award for his contributions to the state’s procedures for emergency medical services.

“Dr. Bitner has been instrumental in the development of a regional medical oversight committee in North Fulton County,” said Sandy Springs Fire Chief Jack McElfish in an April 21 release. “This committee … has become the centerpiece of Fire/EMS in North Fulton.”

Bitner is an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Emory University. In addition to Sandy Springs, he serves as medical director for the Chattahoochee River 911 Authority, Milton Fire Rescue and Emory EMS.

He also works as an emergency physician in the trauma center of Emory University and Grady Memorial hospitals.

Bitner formerly served as medical director for Grady Memorial Hospital but resigned in January. He would not comment on why he left.

Bitner said his interest in emergency medicine began as a college undergraduate in Virginia. He worked as an EMT with fire rescue.

“It sort of stuck with me and that’s kind of why I have stayed involved with EMS agencies as part of my career now,” Bitner said.

Bitner came to Atlanta in 2004 for medical training at Emory University. He started with Sandy Springs in 2007 and a year ago was promoted to director.

Bitner has brought treatments to Sandy Springs like the “hypothermia” technique that cools cardiac arrest patients to protect their brain function. He also has added two technologies to help stem the tide of blood loss.

“We are quite proud of what they do,” Bitner said about Sandy Springs Fire Rescue.