Emergency Public Ambulance Service or as classified as today emergency medical service for Wa D. C. has followed a convoluted and at times troubled path. Its inception in our state’s capital are grounded in the various private hospitals and their development in service and care. The Municipal ambulance services War is a likely beginning as at the height of the conflict up to eighty-five private hospitals exist in Wa. A military ambulance corps with dedicated wagons moves the range of injured members of the military from educates and boats to the many facilities most as camps or warehouses of experiencing little in the form of sterilizing or proper medical treatment. After the war, Wa D. C. begins to develop as the once river bottom city stretches into the hinterlands adding new public facilities and services. This includes new private hospitals models for the improved understanding and practice of medicine.
In 1880, Central Dispensary Hospital opens its emergency department becoming Central Dispensary and Emergency Hospital. In 1888, telephone service founder Alexander Graham Bell donates an ambulance to Garfield Commemorative Hospital another type of medical modernity. An ambulance is added to Central Dispensary and Emergency Hospital by 1892 a comparable period the city’s Metropolitan Police Department has several ambulances. Most ambulances of this period are like horse-drawn delivery wagons or hearses used mostly for those less able to pay for a doctor to come to their home.
After 1910, the horse-drawn wagons and modified hearses are replaced by electric vehicles still managed by just a few city private hospitals. Not all private hospitals have emergency sectors with most open part-time. Central Dispensary and Emergency Hospital near the White House as well as Eastern Dispensary and Casualty Hospital near the Capitol get to be the anchor of emergency health care bills and public ambulance service. In 1918 an influenza pandemic brings various Red Cross ambulance areas to parts of the city. A lot more like garages, these have nurses and electric ambulances for handling the range of flu cases already overwhelming the private hospitals.
By 1924, five private hospitals have ambulances with a sixth run by the Health Department for the indigent and in your head ill. The concept of emergency medicine can be as yet to be realized with no dedicated professionals just the person who is available to handle an urgent situation case. Ambulances are staffed by interns, an occasional doctor or nurse on board depending on the type of call. Still, abuse of service in the form of pointless calls are a problem and at times no ambulance is available. There is no coordination or dispatching and no way to communicate with units once they are on the street. In early 1925, the Region of Columbia Fire Department adds an ambulance as part of its freshly formed rescue company. This takes action on rescues and shoots initially intended for injured firefighters. Over time as service demands rise, the fire department ambulance is used to cover for busy hospital ambulances.
In 1937 a small grouping of citizens in the Chevy Chase section of Second Northwest form the Chevy Chase First-aid Corps. This all you are not selected ambulance agency serves portions of Wa D. C. and Montgomery Local Md. In 1940, radio communications are introduced to Washington’s emergency agencies including fire department units like the rescue team and its ambulance. Hospital ambulances are similarly equipped from the Metropolitan Police Department’s radio system. While police are more abundant locally and sometimes arrive at emergencies first, this still causes confusion and inefficiency as the police actually want no part of tracking and coordinating ambulances. Sometimes the nearest ambulance is not the one sent and occasionally units from different private hospitals pass one another en-route to different calls. Private hospitals are largely close by the Town center hence service for the growing outskirts takes longer with units out of service for greater periods. There is no central authority to supervise operations or make changes as demands assure.
Late in 1941, the world is push into World War II and the Chevy Chase First-aid Corps ends service its members becoming a member of military duty pledging to re-start upon their return. Meanwhile Wa D. C. sees an exploding market in wartime population further difficult an already beleaguered ambulance service. The war also brings a loss of ambulance drivers replaced by volunteers many being women. Doctors also in short supply cease replying on the ambulances leaving only interns and you are not selected drivers with minimal if any training. As the system becomes strained it is clear no one has the authority to make needed changes. Law enforcement department has the greatest oversight but ignores problems as ambulance responsibilities are viewed more as a burden they are stuck with.
By mid 1943, the fire department adds another ambulance this attached to its freshly formed Rescue Team 2. Right after, a doctor and Us president of the city’s Police and Fire Cosmetic surgeons Board accessories a plan for improvements. This includes removing the ambulance at Garfield Commemorative that becomes a second ambulance at Emergency Hospital. The city’s Health Department is given greater authority with drivers now as that agencies employees supported still by a medical intern. The two fire department ambulances are incorporated into the system used if needed or if closer to a serious incident. Right after, ambulance radios are moved to a separate radio frequency linked to the new Ambulance Control Board at Fire Alarm Headquarters. In 1944, one third fire department ambulance is added to the firehouse of Engine 31 in Second Northwest. Later in 1945, volunteers of the defunct Chevy Chase First-aid Corps return from military duty and as stated re-start service again. This time they operate beyond the city in Montgomery Local, under the name Bethesda-Chevy Chase First-aid Corps right after Rescue Team. This all you are not selected service continues replying into the city covering portions of Second Northwest.
Through the 1950s, Wa D. C. enjoys an interval of post war growth bringing development including to the outer fringes as well as into adjacent suburban counties. Improvements come to aging private hospitals as some proceed to new facilities while others like Emergency and Garfield consolidate to the new Wa Hospital Center. The ambulance system still strained and badly matched up is recommended for travelling across change. In mid 1957 a healthcare facility and health department public ambulance service is technically used in the Region of Columbia Fire Department. Units are divorced from the rescue squads and Engine 31 the navy of six units strategically put in various city fire areas. The Region of Columbia Fire Department’s Emergency Ambulance Service is staffed at any hour by first-aid trained firefighters with patients taken to the nearest hospital emergency room one third such facility growing to 24-hour operation.
Thus begins a new era in Wa D. C. emergency services. Of course this is not a conclusion but a beginning as over time new problems arise and the entire approach to public ambulance service makes over into emergency medical service. Over the next fifty years, new issues, challenges and of course an array of changes lay ahead for the service, the city and the fire department serving and protecting our state’s capital.