Ambulances - History of Ambulances


Carts have been used to transport sick people since ancient times, but Dr. Edward L. Dalton, from Bellevue Hospital in New York City, is credited with starting the first hospital-based, civil ambulance service in the United States in 1869. These horse-and-buggy teams carried medical equipment, such a splints, a stomach pump, morphine, and brandy. In February 1899, the first motor powered (electric) ambulance service started, bringing patients to Michael Reese Hospital, in Chicago, Illinois.

The ambulance went through many changes and improvements during the 20th Century, including the development of air and sea ambulances. Over time, ambulances have been updated so that they are almost mobile hospitals. Countless lives have been saved by the rapid care they make possible.

  • The first ambulance was staffed by doctors from Bellevue Hospital, Drs. Duncan Lee and Robert Taylor. They are considered to be New York's first emergency responders. The service was very popular. In 1870 they responded to 1,401 calls, and by 1891 they were responding to more than three times that number.
  • The first mass-produced ambulances were manufactured in 1909 by James Cunningham, Son, and Company of Rochester, New York. This ambulance was named the Model 774 Automobile Ambulance.
  • Early horse-drawn ambulances sounded a gong to get people to move out of the way. Modern ambulances use a combination of bright colours, flashing strobe lights and sirens.
  • The term "ambulance" comes from the Latin word ambulare which means "to walk", and originally referred to a mobile or field hospital from the French (hôpital) ambulant, literally "walking (hospital)".
  • Ambulances come in many types of vehicles, including: bicycles, ATVs, helicopters, and planes.

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