LEASA celebrates 35 years of service

Martha Sparks msparks@civitasmedia.com

March 5, 2014

The Logan Emergency Ambulance Service Authority (LEASA) is observing its 35th year of service today to the local area.

On March 5, 1979, the Logan County Commission took steps to improve the quality of life in the county by taking measures to provide for pre-hospital care for county residents.

Commissioners Dr. Mark Spurlock, Dr. David Mullins and Junior Lambert approved the creation of the Logan County Emergency Ambulance Service Authority. The new agency has outlived all three and continues to serve the residents of the county.

Before 1979, ambulance care had been managed by local funeral homes or private services. At times, patients had to pay for the service before being transported.

Following an accident involving a student on Midelburg Island, a group of local residents gathered at a commission meeting and expressed to the commission the need for a more comprehensive system of pre-hospital care for the county. Under State law, the commission is responsible to see to it that emergency ambulance service is provided in the county.

After the ambulance authority was organized, a 15-member Board of Directors consisting of local business people and residents was appointed and charged with the task of providing the service for the county.

At first, the Board tried to work with county fire departments but the departments indicated they were already too busy to take on the task.

Next, the Board tried to organize a group of volunteers to work out of station in Logan, Chapmanville and Man. This also didn’t work out.

Finally, the Board decided to directly operate the ambulance service and County Public Rescue was born. An Executive Director, Roger Bryant, was hired to manage the day to day operations.

Thirty five years and hundreds of thousands of calls later, the Ambulance Authority employees approximately 75 full time and part-time personnel, a fleet of 15 ambulances, and has one of only a few Critical Care Transport teams in the state.

In addition, the Logan Emergency Ambulance Service Authority operates several rescue programs including search and rescue, hazmat technicians, rope rescue, a dive team and structural rescue. Training for these teams has helped LEASA obtain a reputation statewide and has also resulted in many trophies awarded in state competition.

Born out of necessity, the Logan Emergency Ambulance Service Authority is definitely one government program that has worked.