It started as simply keeping emergency services up and running, but ended with a bus full of entrepreneurs answering the call of their community. 

Members of the West Hardy Emergency Medical Services first met Robert “Buc” Hammer, a business coach with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, near the end of 2021. But why they met him was the most important part.  

West Hardy EMS: Small Town with Big Heroes

The small town of Moorefield, the seat of Hardy County and where most of the county’s population lives, was about to lose its only emergency medical service. The next nearest service was more than 10 miles away, and in a rural town, that can mean life or death depending on the situation. 

West Hardy EMS: Small Town with Big Heroes

And as the old saying goes – Where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

The emergency service had been privately owned, and the small group of emergency workers decided to make it a 501c3 in order to get funding to keep it open. And it worked. But the EMS group needed money for payroll and other expenses. Cue Buc Hammer. 

“What the bank wanted to see was a business plan,” Hammer said. “That’s something we do at the SBDC, as coaches, we help develop a business plan and financial projections.” 

West Hardy EMS: Small Town with Big Heroes

Because the EMS service took on the new classification as a non-profit, they were able to work with the county commission to secure funding for equipment. 

“They wouldn’t have been able to do that if they weren’t a 501c3,” Hammer said. “You have to understand this is a group of paramedics and EMTs and they had the foresight of becoming a non-profit.”

Hammer said the team was full steam ahead on making this come to fruition. 

West Hardy EMS: Small Town with Big Heroes

“It was so easy to work with the enthusiasm of the small group that did this, there’s only four of them,” Hammer said. 

Hammer’s background is in healthcare and he was a former CEO of a hospital in Elkins for decades and he says he knew what this meant to the community. 

“I was like them; this was going to happen.” Hammer said. 

West Hardy EMS: Small Town with Big Heroes

Hammer said every meeting and every visit was exciting and fun. He says he’s been able to do this with many businesses in the state. 

“We do a lot of work with businesses that already exist, too, who want to expand,” Hammer said. “It’s fun. The day we closed on West Hardy I got just as much as excitement as they did.” 

WV SBDC is an accredited member of America’s SBDC, a federal partner with the SBA and a state partner with the WV Department of Economic Development. 

West Hardy EMS: Small Town with Big Heroes

WV SBDC business coaches have professional certifications ranging from exporting, innovation, technology and economic development, to finance, management, marketing and entrepreneurship. 

For information about starting a small business in WV and resources for entrepreneurs, visit