Emergency public ambulance service or as termed today emergency medical support for Washington D. C. has followed a convoluted and at times troubled path. Its beginnings within our nation’s capital are rooted in the various hospitals and their advancement in service and care. The City War is a likely beginning because at the height of the conflict as many as 85 hospitals exist in Washington. A military ambulance corps along with dedicated wagons moves the array of injured soldiers from trains and boats to the many facilities most as camps or warehouses of suffering with little in the way of sanitation or proper medical treatment. After the war, Wa D.
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C. begins to develop because the once river bottom city grows into the hinterlands adding new general public facilities and services. This includes new hospitals models for the improved understanding and practice of medicine.
In 1880, Central Dispensary Hospital starts its emergency department becoming Central Dispensary and Emergency Hospital. Within 1888, telephone service founder Alexander Graham Bell donates an ambulance to Garfield Memorial Hospital an additional model of medical modernity. An ambulance is added to Central Dispensary and Emergency Hospital by 1892 about the same period the city’s Metropolitan Police Department has several ambulances. The majority of ambulances of this period are like horse-drawn delivery wagons or hearses utilized mostly for those less able to buy a doctor to come to their home.
After 1910, the horse-drawn wagons and modified hearses are replaced simply by motorized vehicles still operated by just a few city hospitals. Not all private hospitals have emergency departments with the majority of open part-time. Central Dispensary and Emergency Hospital near the White House as well as Eastern Dispensary and Casualty Hospital near the Capitol become the pillar of emergency medical care and general public ambulance service. In 1918 a good influenza pandemic brings various Red Cross ambulance stations to areas of the city. More like garages, these possess nurses and motorized ambulances regarding handling the array of flu cases already overwhelming the hospitals.
Simply by 1924, five hospitals have ambulances with a sixth run by the Wellness Department for the indigent and mentally ill. The concept of emergency medicine is as yet to be realized with no dedicated professionals just whoever is available to handle an emergency case. Ambulances are staffed by interns, an occasional doctor or nurse on board depending on the type of call. Still, abuse of services in the way of needless calls are an issue and at times no ambulance can be obtained. There is no coordination or dispatching and no way to communicate with units once they are on the street. In early 1925, the District of Columbia Fire Department adds an ambulance as part of its new rescue company. This responds on rescues and fires initially intended for injured firefighters. Over time as program demands rise, the fire division ambulance is used to cover for busy hospital ambulances.
In 1937 a team of citizens in the Chevy Chase part of Upper Northwest form the Chevy Run after First Aid Corps. This all volunteer ambulance agency serves portions associated with Washington D. C. and Montgomery County Maryland. In 1940, radio communications are introduced to Washington’s emergency agencies including fire division units like the rescue squad as well as ambulance. Hospital ambulances are likewise equipped linked to the Metropolitan Police Department’s radio system. While police tend to be more abundant in the community and sometimes reach emergencies first, this still leads to confusion and inefficiency as the police in truth want no part of monitoring and coordinating ambulances. Sometimes the closest ambulance is not the one delivered and occasionally units from different hospitals pass one another en-route in order to calls. Hospitals are largely in and around the Downtown hence service for your growing outskirts takes longer with units out of service for better periods. There is no central authority in order to oversee operations or make modifications as demands warrant.
Late within 1941, the nation is thrust into World War II and the Chevy Chase First-aid Corps ceases service its associates signing up for military duty pledging to re-start upon their return. In the meantime Washington D. C. sees a good explosion in wartime population further taxing an already beleaguered ambulance service. The war also brings a loss of ambulance drivers changed by volunteers many being females. Doctors also in short supply cease responding on the ambulances leaving only interns and volunteer drivers with minimum if any training. As the program becomes strained it is clear no one has the authority to make needed modifications. The police department has the greatest oversight but ignores problems as ambulance responsibilities are viewed more like a burden they are stuck with.
By mid 1943, the fire department provides another ambulance this attached to the newly formed Rescue Squad 2 . Immediately after, a doctor and President of the city’s Police and Fi