Ambulance books

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Ambulance books

Postby Aaronw on Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:00 pm

Earlier this summer I bought a couple of books covering the history of the ambulance / EMS. I have finally had some time to sit down and skim through them. Thought they might be of interest to others for inspiration or simply for those with an interest in EMS / Pre-Hospital Care.

The Ambulance by Katherine Barkley was first written in 1978 so early in the era of our modern EMS (Paramedics / EMTs) it has been reprinted several times since. It is primarily focused on the ambulances themselves rather than the systems within which they work. It goes back to the 8th century but the bulk of the book deals with the development of horse drawn and motorized ambulances of the 19th and 20th centuries. It has lots of illustrations / photos which are of use to modelers although it is a book of text, not a photo gallery like you would find from Iconograpix or similar.

The second book, The Ambulance, A History written by Ryan Corbett Bell is only a few years old (2009) so also covers the developments that have occurred since the 1970s. This is really more of a history of Pre-Hospital Care and the development of EMS / Ambulance services that also includes the development of ambulances. It goes into far more detail on the development of out of hospital care and ambulance services going back to the 6th century. The first 2 chapters talk about the state of affairs in the early years, but again the bulk of the book looks at the 19th-21st centuries. It is largely focused on the USA but does mention significant developments in other parts of the world. It also features many illustrations and photos, but with less focus on the vehicles.

For photos of motorized ambulances there is The American Ambulance 1900-2002 from Iconografix which does a great job of illustrating the development of motorized ambulances with its hundreds of photos.

All three books are currently available through Amazon
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Re: Ambulance books

Postby chariots of fire on Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:42 pm

The 1970's were the years when the modern EMS/Ambulance service really took off. I can remember the local fire departments and the local hospital having ambulances but they were essentially station wagons that had a stretcher, some O2 and a first aid kit. The hospital ambulance was a beautiful 1940's vintage Packard. Wish I had photos of it. I think you can credit the TV show "Emergency" for really getting the EMS service off the ground.
Locally it took an accident involving a dump truck loaded with bricks that trapped and almost killed a young firefighter. He vowed to have a rescue squad for just such purposes. The first rescue in town was a 1972 GMC with a covered utility body on it. Many of the firefighters then became EMT's. The Paramedic designation came along a few years later.
Thanks for the info on the reference books, Aaron. I may just have to sift through my library to see if I have them. It's been a while.
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Re: Ambulance books

Postby GLMFAA1 on Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:20 am

Just to add to Charlie's history the real push came in the late 60's with the Highway transportation act that set guidelines for automobiles and for ambulances, ie kkk specifications, EMT education grew from red cross first aid and communication improvements ie HEAR radio. With the standards of CPR being established in the mid 70's space restrictions eliminated the Cadillac /vehicle ambulances. With more space needed for portable and state of the art equipment that also requires advanced training you have today the er room on wheels. Even in our youth we saw the primitive ambulance used in the western movies, Papa Hemingway telling us about WW1 exploits in his book. The American civil war was the start of triage and transportation and even now we regress back to amputation with military type injuries.
I have had the privilege of having a 44 year career in pre hospital care from my first CPR lesson that being of a doctor slamming his fist on a table to 12 leads, hands free defib, IO therapy, the wonder of D50 and Narcan. and Capnography.

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Re: Ambulance books

Postby Aaronw on Thu Nov 03, 2016 12:04 am

I'm fairly familiar with the developments since the 1960s. What surprised me was how involved police departments were with ambulance service prior to WW2. According to the second book, police departments were the primary ambulance provider during the 1920s and 30s, but post war there was a major shift to private (often funeral home based) ambulances which by the 1960s had become the most common service provider.

Anyway I'm finding it really interesting reading.


On a side note in the 1960s the town north of me had their ambulance service being run by the local hot rod club :D

http://www.willitsshifters.com/shifters_history_8.html
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Re: Ambulance books

Postby chariots of fire on Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:48 pm

Interesting, Aaron. But I wonder if the reason the PD's were running ambulances is because they were most likely a full time organization in most towns. The fire service has maintained its volunteer status in a lot of places except in the big cities, of course. Just a tho't.
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