BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – The Upshur County Emergency Medical Service celebrated 50 years of service to the residents of the county Saturday.
EMS members in attendance said that their services have changed a lot over the past 50 years benefiting those that utilize their services. Former members of the EMS say working with the Upshur County EMS Service has helped them in moving forward in the medical field.
“We have more paramedics, we went to all paid, at one time when I started in 1986, we were all volunteer crew and there was like 70 and 80 members, but you had to go through flip files and dial each phone number on the telephone. We also dispatched all of our runs out of here, so we had a red phone with no dial, and it came from 911, so it was our responsibility as the dispatcher to get a crew in and get them on their way,” said Susan McKisic, Treasurer of the Upshur County EMS. “But volunteerism has died out through EMS, through fire departments, and a lot of things, and that puts a hurt on people. So, we are now an all paid crew and we dispatch out of the 911 center now.”
Officials with the EMS Service noted that there have been other ambulance services but are proud to say that they are the longest running EMS service in the county.
Members also said in the early 1970s that concerned citizens of the county and the City of Buckhannon gathered and determined that the ambulance service at the time was inadequate to service the residents. The group decided after researching that a change needed to be made.
“They began the process of forming the Upshur County Emergency Medical Services Inc. which was in January of 1972 signed by Governor Rockefeller as an official organization. At which time then, after the formal existence then other steps were taken to get the company up and running, and working,” said Dirk Burnside, Board of Directors for the Upshur County Emergency Medical Services. “Some hursts were donated by the local funeral homes who had been previously transporting patients and the governor’s highway safety program helped fund two 1972 Chevrolet ambulances. Which were really the ones we used and the ones we started with.”
Upshur County EMS currently has five ambulances in its fleet and employees approximately 20 paid EMS members. Members said they want to honor their commitment to provide many more years of service to the residents in the county.