Modern Paramedic Practices Were Pioneered In Which American City?
Once upon a time, emergency care was a much riskier affair with emergency responders few and far between (if you dare even call them that). Americans today take for granted that many policemen and nearly all firemen have emergency medical response training and that an entire separate class of emergency responders, paramedics, exists to help ferry them to the hospital in times of need.
Historically, however, no such class of emergency responders even existed. Prior to the late 1960s, there was no such thing as a paramedic/EMT. Ambulances existed, but they were expensive and rarely dispatched for anyone except the wealthy; further, the attendants in the ambulances went through no certification process and no formal training, so the attendants might have a solid medical background or, more dangerously, not. For those who couldn’t afford an ambulance, there was always a ride in the back of a police car to the hospital (with your fingers crossed that you made it there alive). If you lived in a poor neighborhood, especially a racially segregated one, then you couldn’t even rely on the police to come to your aide and whisk you to the emergency room.
In response to that very situation, Freedom House, a non-profit organization in Pittsburgh that provided employment training and job creation for the disadvantaged, began training citizens in the city’s predominantly African-American Hill District to serve as emergency responders to help within their own community. The system proved so successful that it spread outside the district, across the city, and was emulated in cities across the country. Today, thanks to the ground broken by Freedom House and those pioneering first responders, we can enjoy safe ambulance transport while attended to by trained professionals.
Image courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh.