At Pelzer EMS
By Stan Welch
The life of James Leroy Vinson and his contributions to area emergency medical care were the subject of a celebratory breakfast hosted by the Pelzer Rescue Squad Saturday morning. The mornings events came to a close with the formal dedication of the Squad’s training room in Vinson’s name.
Vinson, who spent forty four years with the squad, trained hundreds of other EMTS and paramedics over the years. He joined the squad just four years after it was established. Julia Nichols, the squad’s first female paramedic and one of the organizers of the commemoration, spoke of Vinson’s passion for emergency medicine, and of his personal dedication to his family as well.
A number of his family were on hand, including his wife, Martha. They were married for forty nine years, before Vinson passed away from illness last fall.
Current training officer Don Clardy spoke of the impact that Vinson had on literally hundreds of medical personnel, during the course of his long career as a training officer. Beginning at age 26, Vinson began a long and illustrious stint, first as a basic ambulance driver. He soon became an EMT, and by the time he was thirty, he was teaching others.
Four years later, he graduated with the first paramedic class in South Carolina. He was issued certificate number two; but only because Anderson County coroner Greg Shore’s last name began with an S instead of a V.
Clardy spoke of how Vinson always commanded the scene wherever he responded.
“He was always on top of things. He was completely prepared, and he never got flustered. His calmness and control of the situation often kept things from getting worse, and escalating to a bigger problem. He responded to a situation I had one time where a woman was in the middle of a panic attack. I was really expecting her to have a cardiac moment, but Leroy just sat down with her and talked about what had been going on to put her in such distress. In five minutes, she decided she didn’t even need to go to the hospital. That’s the way Leroy was.”
Clardy went on to talk about how Vinson’s impact has spread far beyond Anderson County. “He trained hundreds of personnel, many of whom have moved on to other places. But they were trained by Leroy, and he touched every one of their lives in some way. We should all thank God for the life of Leroy Vinson, and the gift he had as a paramedic.”
Pictured Top – Pelzer’s Leroy Vinson was among EMS personnel honored by a group of their fellow EMS providers during the South Carolina EMS Memorial Bike Ride Saturday. Riders covered 224 miles on bicycles in three days. The ride culminates at the EMS Memorial in Gaston, SC. Forty riders set out for Lexington Saturday morning, following a breakfast sponsored by the Pelzer Squad. The ride culminated Sunday at the Memorial, located at 1736 Old State Road, in Gaston. (Courtesy photo)