By Stan Welch
Leroy Vinson, an icon in the first responder community in Anderson County, will be honored Saturday during the South Carolina EMS Memorial Bike Ride.
Each year, those EMS personnel who have died during the year are honored by a group of their fellow EMS providers, who ride 224 miles on bicycles in three days. The ride culminates at the EMS Memorial in Gaston, SC, where a brick bearing the individual’s name will be added to the memorial. A pair of dogtags worn by a rider will be presented to Vinson’s family at the end of the ride.
Vinson served the Pelzer community from 1970 until his failing health ended his service in August of last year. A month later, he passed away. Vinson first joined the Pelzer Rescue Squad in 1970, just four years after it was founded. He became an EMT at the age of twenty one years old; and in 1979 became the second Paramedic certified by the state of South Carolina. Anderson County coroner Greg Shore, who graduated with Vinson, received the first certification.
Vinson went on to train hundreds of EMTs over the next four decades, including almost every current member of the Pelzer Rescue Squad. He was known as a paramedic’s paramedic. When he first joined the Pelzer squad, the ambulance consisted of a used station wagon equipped with lights and a siren.
Forty riders will set out for Lexington Saturday morning, following a breakfast sponsored by the Pelzer Squad. They will ride the ninety eight miles in approximately six hours. The ride will culminate the next day at the Memorial, located at 1736 Old State Road, in Gaston.
Following the riders’ departure, the Vinson family, comprised of his wife Martha, four children, thirteen grandchildren, and two great grandchildren will be honored at a special breakfast at the Squad headquarters, followed by a ceremony dedicating the training room to Vinson, and naming it after him.