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More from the beginning

By Staff | Jul 22, 2016

Toni Milbourne

Chronicle Editor

Editor’s Note: We thank Mary Ann Morgan who so graciously supplied us with newspaper articles and other information about the purchase of the first amublance in Shepherdstown.

As we noted in the July 15 edition, the Young Homemaker’s Farm Women’s Club was instrumental in securing the funding to purchase the first ambulance to be used in Shepherdstown.

After being made aware of the fact that Charles Town or Martinsburg were responding to calls here, the women took matters into their own hands and worked to raise $2,500 for purchase an ambulance.

Coming to their aid to get the word out were both of the local newspapers at the time, The Independent and The Register. Both printed information about the need for an ambulance, working to reach out to citizens and get their opinions. The papers then helped with advertising special events scheduled to raise funds as well as information on the process before the purchase.

Doctors in town at the time included Dr. Elizabeth McFetridge and Dr. Hiram Sizemore, who, according to the news reports, were in full support of bring the service to town.

From a Jan. 30, 1962 article, the doctors are said to have relayed that the time saving element would be an asset to the community.

At the same meeting, Mrs. Clarence Wright, leader of the Homemakers, made it clear that the funds would have to be in hand before purchasing the ambulance and that the personnel who would be running calls were fully trained.

These were minor stipulations and ones that the fire department and Shepherd College officials readily agreed to. The college would provide training for the personnel on advanced first-aid under the Red Cross training program.

All sorts of fundraisers were held to reach the goal to purchase the ambulance. Some recorded in the local papers included several bake sales. The Shepherd College 4-H clubs held a dance at the Men’s Club with admission cost of 25 cents per person. The dance, according the newspaper report, was held upstairs in the ballroom for junior and senior high aged attendees while games were organized for elementary agers downstairs.

A fund drive was underway for nearly a year to garner the needed dollars.

The members of the Homemakers Club wrote letters seeking donations and went door to door when necessary.

The Club was successful in purchasing the vehicle even before reaching the final goal of $2,500.

After the purchase was made, an open house was held at the Fire Department on May 19, 1963 when Mrs. Wright turned over the keys to members of the department including Chief Lee Morgan. Approximately 150 people attended the event, similar to the number who attended this past weekend’s dedication event of the new ambulances purchased by the company this year.

The operation of that vehicle in 1963 fell to men in the department who had completed the Standard and Advanced First Aid Course of the AMerican Red Cross in ambulance procedure conduct as well as other specialized courses.