Ambulance and EMS History

In the beginning, Ambulance services were run by the local funeral homes. The hearse was used to transport patients to the hospital. The funeral home attendants had very little first aid training.

Following World War II, rescue squads & ambulance services began to emerge into the US. Still most of the personnel were untrained and barely had any equipment.

In 1966, the President signed the law National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This act created the first mandatory federal safety standards for motor vehicles. This was the first effort to focus on improving deficiencies in EMS systems.

Emergency Medical Systems equipment today is much different from when EMS began many years ago. Ambulances now are more like mobile emergency rooms. Computers and cell phones are two improvements made in equipment. Paramedics can now fax the 12 lead done in the field to the hospital’s Emergency Department for a physician to review it before the patient arrives.

In the 1970’s, ambulances had a major design change. Ambulances are now often custom built and are more capable of carrying and storing the needed equipment.

EMS Fun Facts in History

1865– The Commercial Hospital (now Cincinnati General) in
Cincinnati introduced the first ambulance services associated with a hospital.

1909 -The American Red Cross begins its first aid training program

1964- The President’s commission on Highway Safety called for emergency care and transportation of the sick and injured as one of its community action programs.

1972- Debut of TV show “Emergency”

1973- The blue Star of Life was designed

1975 – The National Association of EMTs was formed

1978- The American Ambulance Association was formed

1980- The National Registry of EMTs published its first national standard curriculum