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Emilee Kessler

Emilee Kessler – Amberson, Pennsylvania
Based on the information I learned in my initial research about Blacksville and western Monongalia County, I assumed it would be like any other small, quiet town, but it is much more than that. Since Blacksville doesn’t get reported on often, I was nervous to ask people about what mattered to them in their town. Even though it’s not a daunting question, I know how nerve racking it is to be approached by a stranger. It was hard to find people to open up to me and trust me. A question I got asked a lot by residents is “Why?” Why do I care to learn about their small town? After explaining how we were aiming to learn about and bring more representation to their community, I gained more trust. The first individual I got to speak to was Sandra Throckmorton. She is the kind-hearted branch manager at the Clay-Battelle Public Library. Sandra introduced the problem of the lack of emergency services in the area. I knew this was a big issue in rural communities, and I wanted to dig deeper. The closest major hospitals are all in the Morgantown area, which is about a 20-30 minute drive away. I knew to make the problem clear, I had to find someone who was willing to share their experience waiting for emergency services. Finding someone to talk on the record about their experience was challenging. It’s hard to share with someone, whom you barely know, a time when a loved one either didn’t make it or something traumatic happened to you personally. I was able to have a few conversations with people in the community about these times, but they didn’t feel comfortable sharing their stories openly to the public. The Monongalia County EMS employees were helpful in explaining the logistics and issues of services to the county. Captain of Support Services, John Bandzul, and the EMTs who are stationed in Blacksville were easy to talk with. All of the people I talked to were kind. This story resonated with me because when I am home from college, I live in a small town like Blacksville. My town does not have a full ambulance station either, and we are about 40 minutes away from the nearest hospital. This is an issue for so many rural areas, but no matter their health conditions, people enjoy living where they are comfortable. In my town, as well as in Blacksville, I know everyone does everything they can to help each other, whether it is the EMTs or neighbors. There are a some things about the community in general I would like to follow up on. Some people mentioned the lack of police force in the area. If emergency responses is a big issue, what needs to be done for more change to happen? Emergency services as a whole, and not just EMS, are a large problem for a lot of rural communities. One thing I learned while trying to talk to community members is that a lot of them communicate mostly face-to-face. I would be sent to different homes, roads, and places to find a specific person. My notes app, on my phone, is filled with things like “brick house on the left,” or “blue double wide, up on the hill, behind the post office.” This was one of my favorite things about Blacksville. This detail really showed the closeness of their community.