This week I visited the headquarters of the Doddridge County Emergency Squad, Inc. to see what information I could find on the origins of this vital service. I was treated warmly and with great respect, as I knew I would be. Director Kris Barron already had several historical news clippings and scrapbooks on the table for my inspection. The documentation of the timeline of this organization was extensive. I cannot thank him enough for all his help during my research for this article.
I learned that in the many months that preceded the Doddridge County Emergency Squad, Inc. officially offering emergency services to the public at 6 p.m. on January 30, 1972, there was a great effort made by a great number of individuals and organizations including the Lions Club, Doddridge County Commission, members of the State and County Highway Safety groups and local citizens to organize and obtain funding for the new emergency medical services.
The Lions Club agreed to sponsor the project. The name chosen was: “The Doddridge County Emergency Squad, Inc.” The Lions Club appointed Robert A. Wagner as Board Chairman; W.E. “Bill” Williams, Bernard Cross, Johnny Vanscoy, and James S. Davis members of the Board. Marvin Brissey was appointed the first President; George Wycoff, Vice President; Darrell “Jack” Powell, Secretary; Charles Langfitt, Treasurer; Rolla W. Maxwell, Director of Vehicles; Brennen D. “Dick” Gum, Assist. Director of Vehicles; James A. Hoskinson, Personnel Director; Pauline Maxwell, Assist. Personnel Director; Jack Negie, Director of Supplies, and Dewey Scott, Assist. Director of Supplies.
The newly formed Squad operated under By-Laws that were written by the Board of Directors and were approved by the Doddridge County Commission. With that accomplished, the focus was on obtaining an ambulance and the proper gear necessary to operate a qualified emergency medical service.
It was on November 18th that Gov. Arch Moore announced approval of a federal grant in the amount of $9,798.35 to help buy an ambulance and other needed equipment. The EMS was to implement one of the Federal Standards promulgated by the National Highway Act of 1966.
Robert A. Wagner, chairman of the new Doddridge County Emergency Squad worked with program manager for the State Highway Safety Region I of the Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau to coordinate. The project was authorized by Doddridge County Commission president, Dennis S. Wolverton who also served as chairman of the Doddridge County Highway Safety Commission. Other familiar county citizens who were members of the Doddridge County Highway Safety Commission were Lewis Kiger, vice president; H. D. Spurlock, secretary; Edwin Bode and Clay Krenn.
You might recognize some of the members of the special Emergency Medical Services Technical Committee who drafted the program. They were June Nutter, chairman; Edmund Cole, Billy Hoskinson, June Stinespring, C. J. Spurgeon, Ora Ford, Gertrude Compton, Wilson Osborne, Larry Cottrill, and Delores Hinter.
The Doddridge County Commission provided other needed funds as well as donations from hundreds of the county’s citizens who donated in the amounts of fifty cents, one dollar, twenty, fifty, one hundred dollars and everything in between. It truly was through the efforts of an entire community that this project was made a reality.
After the consideration of bids on Nov. 18th, Commission President, Dennis Wolverton, signed the purchase order for an ambulance which was given to “The Hearse and Ambulance Sales, Inc. of Richmond, VA. The ambulance was to arrive within 60 days or sooner.
The new ambulance would be stocked with the latest emergency equipment, including a pulse tac and a blood pressure cuff, as well as bandages, antiseptics, mobile cart, and all the other necessary life-saving devices. The ambulance carried a price tag of $13,500. It was a Chevrolet Vanquard model and would accommodate four litter patients.
This left a need for classes in Emergency Medical Technicians taught by Dr. John Van Gilder. Forty-six students completed the required hours, and all passed the test and were certified. This was followed by ten hours of emergency room training at a hospital.
Those first 48 individuals who took the advanced training in Emergency Transportation and Immediate Care for the Sick and Injured were:
David Bland, Louetta Bode, Nolan Bod, David Bowyer, Marvin Brissey, Jackson Calhoun, Norman Cross, Dessie Daugherty, Tensil Davis, Randall Davisson, Sally Dean, Wendy Diamond, Jo Ann Ellifritt, Berlin Gain, Brennan Gum, Earl Hoskinson, James Hoskinson, Furman Jarrett, Maxine Jett, David Kelley, Ara Lee Kelley, Lawrence Keys, Lewis Knight, Ronald Knight, Charles Langfitt, Rolla Maxwell, Pauline Maxwell, Barbara Mills, Clinton Means, Sammy Moran, Marjorie Mullens, David Royer, James Russell, Dewey Scott, Willard Shafer, George Sponaugle, Snowden Stout, E.F. Stutler, Raymond Vanscoy, Marilee Vanscoy, Roy Vogt, Robert Wagner, Audrey Westfall, Halley Westfall, George Wyckoff, and Sandra Wyckoff.
Many other Squad members were waiting to take the EMT Course. They were James W. Anderson, Geneva Anderson, Steve Ash, Robert Baker, Richard Beck, Jack Eugene Boring, Clara Brissey, Ruby Burton, Edwin H. Chapman, Anna Belle Childers, George Childers, Lewis Crouch Jr., Gaylord Alan Cox, James S. Davis, Warren Edward Davis, James Diamond, Ronnie Carl Doak, Cecil Fling, Donna Lee Fling, William Edwin Fultz, Martin Hall, Thomas Haught, Carl Harris, Bill Hoskinson, Eleanor Hoskinson, Garnet Hoskinson, Edward Husk, Marie Husk, Jeffery O. Jett, Myrtle Jones, Denver Kelley, Andy Knight, Earnest Smith, Fred Knight, Lina Knight, Gail L. Lambert, Glenda Jo Lambert, Ernest Marrs, Jack Negie, Linda Nutter, Joel Ostropt, Sharon Ann Patterson, Darrell Powell, Ted Reid, James K. Richards, Allen Leo Rush, Ronald Dean Trent, Neva Shinn, Dennis Wolverton, and Kermit Vanscoy.
Several other citizens volunteered and signed up to serve as Dispatchers. They were Edwin C. Burton, Gib Davis, Elizabeth Hall, Pearl Jett, Helen Kiger, Lewis E. Kiger, Kenneth K. Smith Lukery L Snider, Howard D. Spurlock, Sturley G Stalnaker, Nellie M. Stutler, Mabel L. Wagner, Susan Wagner, Dorothea Webber, and Bill Williams. Remember that these selfless citizens were not training to be hired. They were training so that they might volunteer their time to the health and welfare of their community.
Did you know that the first Emergency Squad was headquartered in the lower level of the now Lions Club Building? It was then called the “Town-County Building”. The telephone number then was 873-2222. The area code “304” was not required. The cost for those requiring service was $15 plus 50ȼ per loaded mile.
On Saturday and Sunday, January 29-30,1972, an open house was held so that the citizens could check out the headquarters and equipment. There were more than 300 people who turned out. That open house resulted in another $200 in donations. A sizable amount in the year 1972.
I should say that this well-trained squad had already been attending emergency runs with the Harrison County Emergency Service to be prepared for the time they would go solo; they would be ready, and indeed, they were ready.
That very first shift after operations began responded to three calls. The first call that evening occurred 15 minutes before the official operations began. It was from Mary O. Lewis who was ill and was requesting to be transported to South Div. Hosp., Clarksburg. The second call was from a Rt. 1, Salem caller, Arlene Stout, who was taken to Downtown Div. Hospital, Clarksburg. The 3rd and final call of the shift was from Court Street, West Union, Linda Cottrill, who was taken to So. Division Hospital, Clarksburg. Those working the first shift were Ronald Knight, Driver, and Ara Lee Kelley, Charles Langfitt, and Ernest Marrs, Aides and Lou Bode was the Dispatcher.
Through the years, many of these familiar faces continued to volunteer enormous numbers of hours to the Emergency Squad for the good and welfare of the entire county. Volunteers like Charlie Langfitt who served thousands of hours; Harold “Okey” Curtis who joined the Squad in Feb. 1972 and served on many committees, and was a trained EMT as well as driver; and Pauline Maxwell who was a charter member served for many years. She stated that being a Squad member was one of the most rewarding aspects of her life. Her husband Rollo Maxwell who served as Director of Vehicles until his death in Nov. 1973.
I must save a special place for my dear friend, Jack Calhoun. Jack served as an ambulance drive for the Squad since the beginning of operations (a total of more than 48 years). It gave him immense satisfaction to do his part in saving lives, and great pleasure to drive in the parades. He was a loyal member and Board Member of the Doddridge County Emergency Squad up until his recent death. All who knew him loved him.
Today the Doddridge County Emergency Squad is a fully trained professional team that is as dedicated to the people of this county as was the case on that first day. The Doddridge County Emergency Squad’s current Board of Directors are: Officers – President Richard McMillan, Vice President Jackie Cox, Sec. Tammy Beamer, with board members Pat Heaster, Dave Kelley (last living charter member), Jim Musgrave, and Josh Golden.
They operate with a fully paid, highly trained staff with the following employees: Director Kris Barron, Asst Director Joyce Bea, Captain Shawna Thomas, Lieutenant Walt Schmillen, Transport Coordinator Amanda Crawford, Paramedic Matt Crawford, Paramedic Chase Waggoner, Paramedic Charity Mercer, EMT Austen Fritz, EMT Allie Chico, EMT Michael Rau, EMT FTO Mary Schafer, Operator Matt Vest, EMT Ashley Colburn, EMT RN Bobbi Warner, Dispatcher Sharon Welch, EMT RN Katelyn Harris.
God Bless these lifesaving, devoted Squad members. Sheer dollars and cents can never pay them what they are worth. Still, they work on. Be sure to thank them for all they do. And if you can afford to donate to their organization, do that. It will be the most rewarding gesture you can imagine.
God Bless and Stay Well
Patricia Richards Harris
Doddridge County Historical Society