After 10 years as director of Jackson County Emergency Medical Services, Steve McClure is looking forward to his next challenge.

McClure, who is a Jackson County native, retired from the position in September. He is looking forward to spending more time with his family (and on the golf course) while working part-time for a medical supply company.

Troy Bain has taken over duties as EMS director.

McClure started with 24 full-time employees, an administrative assistant, and eight part-time employees.

“We manned mostly advanced life-support units, four during the day Monday through Friday and three at night and on weekends,” McClure said. “We had an operating budget of about $1.4 million. We also had seven ambulances, five of which had over 200,000 miles and 1 staff vehicle.”

In McClure’s first year, Jackson County EMS crews responded to 4,500 calls.

Now, the agency has a director, an operations chief, an administrative assistant, shift commanders, and four ALS crews that operate 24/7. The department has eight ambulances, four staff vehicles, and a special rescue vehicle. JCEMS has grown to 35 full-time employees and approximately 10 part-time employees.

“And JCEMS is on pace to respond to approximately 5,400 emergency calls in 2018,” McClure said. “Our annual operating budget has also grown to well over $2 million.”

McClure said he is proud of the growth that has taken place at Jackson County EMS.

“I strongly believe that Jackson County EMS ranks within some of the most elite EMS services in the state of West Virginia,” he said. “Our wages are extremely attractive, our vehicles are uniform, and we have some of the best equipment available. We also have been able to remodel our main station and construct a new station in Ravenswood. And we are finishing construction of a new station in Kenna.”

Most importantly, McClure said, Jackson County EMS operates with zero debt.

“We are able to maintain a positive balance and still provide top-notch services to the citizens of this county,” he said.

McClure said many people have had a hand in the success of the department.

“I am proud of the accomplishments of JCEMS over the past 10 years, and this would not have been possible without the support of the past and president commissioners and, above all, the support of the citizens of Jackson County,” he said. “The support of our levy allows us to maintain these services and continue in a revenue-positive status.”

In addition to the county commission, McClure said he also wished to thank another special individual for her outstanding effort – the county’s administrative assistant Sandy Garrett.

“Sandy believed in me and has helped me in countless ways over the years, and without her assistance, I could not have accomplished our goals. For this, I will be forever grateful,” McClure said.

McClure added the department would be nothing without its employees.

“I mention it often that my vehicle doesn’t do much except get me from point A to point B. The paramedics and EMTs of JCEMS are the true heroes and workhorses of the service,” he said. “These people are out there 24/7 in all kinds of hazardous conditions, and although they are paid well for their service, it is not enough. JCEMS has some of the best personnel out there.”

McClure said he also has enjoyed a wonderful working relationship with other local departments, including his “partners in public safety” Sheriff Tony Boggs and OES/911 Director Walter Smittle.

“I feel that we have made a great team throughout the years in shaping and working toward a safer county,” he said.

Prior to becoming EMS director, McClure worked for 28 years as a member of the Charleston Fire Department, a job from which he retired at age 50. Before that, he was a volunteer firefighter in Ravenswood and worked at Jackson County EMS when it first began operation. His love of emergency services began early.

“I started as a junior firefighter on the Cottageville Volunteer Fire Department,” he said. “In first grade, my teacher asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to be a paratrooper or firefighter. I got to be what I wanted to be. I don’t believe in a bucket list. I believe you should do it when it crosses your mind.”

Now at age 60, McClure is excited about the future. He plans to spend more time with his grandchildren, as well as spend time hunting and playing golf.