Pictured, from left, are Upshur County commissioner Sam Nolte, commission president Kristie Tenney, Upshur EMS director Gloria Burr, Dirk Burnside and commissioner Terry Cutright. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

County supports Upshur EMS with $20,000 donation ahead of 50th anniversary

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission granted $20,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the Upshur County EMS.

Dirk Burnside, a representative with the Upshur County Emergency Medical Services Board of Directors, attended the May 5 Upshur County Commission meeting to ask the commission to declare May 15-21 as Emergency Medical Services Week.

Burnside provided some historical insight into the emergency medical services field.

“In January 1972, a television show began and as many television shows do, it influenced people,” Burnside said. “Although some of you may not be old enough to remember things that went on in ‘72, there was a TV show called ‘Emergency!’ that came on, in which weekly paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto and squad 51 in Los Angeles County, performed rescues and did the paramedic thing. That was the first time most of the country ever saw real emergency medical services in the field and it influenced the rest of the country.”

He said in 1971, people in Upshur County decided to do something about the lack of an EMS service in the county.

“At that time, the funeral homes were taking hearses and responding to people’s homes when they were sick or in car wrecks — that was your emergency medical services, transporting them to the hospital,” Burnside said. “The citizens decided this was not enough, so they progressed in beginning EMS in Upshur County, and in January 1972, Governor Rockefeller signed the papers creating the corporation of the Upshur County Emergency Medical Services. That was 50 years ago, and we have decided that 50 years is a good time to hold a little bit of a celebration.”

On May 14 at 10 a.m., the Upshur County EMS will have an open house, where everyone is invited to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Upshur County Commissioner Terry Cutright said he wanted to make a contribution to the Upshur County EMS by giving them $20,000 from the county’s ARPA funds.

“The state code tells us that we’re required to make sure the county has an EMS squad, and whether that’s the Upshur County EMS squad or another, we’re required to,” Cutright said. “Being a frequent flyer, it would be nice to make a contribution to the Upshur County EMS with our ARPA funds.”

As of late last month, the county still had more than $600,000 in ARPA funds to distribute.

The text of the proclamation appears in full below:

Whereas emergency medical services are a vital public service,

Whereas the members of emergency medical services teams are ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week,

Whereas access to quality emergency care dramatically improves survival and recovery rate of those who experience illness or injury,

Whereas emergency medical services have filled the gap by providing important out of hospital care, including preventative medicine, follow up care and access to telemedicine,

Whereas the emergency medical services system consists of first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency medical dispatchers, firefighters, police officers, educators, administrators, pre-hospital nurses, emergency nurses, emergency physicians, trained members of the public and out of hospital medical care providers,

Whereas the members of emergency medical services teams, whether career or volunteer engage in 1000s of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their life-saving skills.

Whereas it is appropriate to recognize the value in the accomplishments of the emergency medical services providers by designating Emergency Medical Services Week.

Whereas the year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Upshur County Emergency Medical Services Incorporated.

Now, therefore, be it declared the Upshur County commission hereby proclaims the week of May 15 through 21st as emergency medical services week and is proud to honor these courageous individuals for their personal sacrifice and commitment to the safety of Upshur County residents and visitors and hereby encourages our community to observe this week with displays of appreciation for emergency medical services.

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