Wednesday, May 22, 2013

EMS Week 2013 May 19 - 25 - The Star of Life - Part 2

Just as physicians have the caduceus, Emergency Medical Service personnel have the Star of Life.

Originally, many ambulances used a safety orange cross on a square background of reflective white to designate them as emergency units.  But then the American National Red Cross complained that it was too close to their symbol that's when the Star of Life was created.

The Star of Life was designed by Leo R. Schwartz, Chief of the EMS Branch of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Each of the bars of the blue Star of Life represents the six system functions of emergency medical services.

The six branches of the star are symbols of the six main tasks executed by rescuers all through the emergency chain:

1.) Detection: The first rescuers on the scene, usually untrained civilians or those involved in the incident, observe the scene, understand the problem, identify the dangers to themselves and the others, and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety on the scene (environmental, electricity, chemicals, radiation, etc.).

2.) Reporting: The call for professional help is made and dispatch is connected with the victims, providing emergency medical dispatch.

3.) Response: The first rescuers provide first aid and immediate care to the extent of their capabilities.

4.) On scene care: The EMS personnel arrive and provide immediate care to the extent of their capabilities on-scene.

5.) Care in Transit: The EMS personnel proceed to transfer the patient to a hospital via an ambulance or helicopter for specialized care. They provide medical care during the transportation.

6.) Transfer to Definitive care: Appropriate specialized care is provided at the hospital.

The snake emblem is the Rod of Asclepius, widely used as the symbol of medical care worldwide. There are several theories as to its development, and it is named for the Greek mythology figure Asclepius, who was said to have possessed healing power.

References: Wikipedia,

EMS Week 2013 May 19 - 25 - History of EMS part 1

This year's theme is "One Mission, One Team"

Once again, the week has arrived to honor and thank our EMS.  (Even though that should be everyday!)

This year I am going to reflect on the History of EMS

Let's start with the first Ambulance.

The first record of ambulances being used for emergency purposes was the use by Queen Isabella of Spain, in 1487. The Spanish army of the time was treated extremely well and attracted volunteers from across the continent, and part of this was the first military hospitals or 'ambulancias', although injured soldiers were not picked up for treatment until after the cessation of the battle, resulting in many dying on the field

The term ambulance comes from the Latin word 'ambulare', meaning to walk or move about which is a reference to early medical care where patients were moved by lifting or wheeling.

The First Municipal Ambulance which started in Bellevue, NY.

June 30, 1869 The Nations first Municipal ambulance service was inaugurated.

The only warning device was a bell operated by a foot pedal on the floorboard of the ambulance. A single horse pulled the ambulance. A box underneath the driver's seat contained a quart flask of brandy, two tourniquets, a half-dozen bandages, a half-dozen small sponges, some splint material, pieces of old blankets for padding, strips of various lengths with buckles, and a two-ounce vial of persulphate of iron. Far cry from what they have now!!

The service was very popular and grew rapidly, with the year 1870 seeing the ambulances attend 1401 emergency calls, but twenty one years later, this had more than tripled to 4392.

The first motor powered ambulance was brought in to service in the last year of the 19th century, with the Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, taking delivery of the first automobile ambulance, donated by 500 prominent local businessmen, in February 1899 it only reached a speed of 16 mph!

Ambulance circa 1899

During World War One, the Red Cross brought in the first widespread battlefield motor ambulances to replace horse drawn vehicles, which was such a success, the horse drawn variants were quickly phased out.

During World War One, aviation moved from experimentation to a powerful military force, and following the war, with a surplus of aircraft in circulation, new uses were found for the aircraft. This included the conversion of planes throughout the world in to ambulance planes.

During the Korean War, the newly created United States Air Force created a number of air ambulance units for use in forward operating medical units, using helicopters for rapid evacuation of patients.

The H-13 Sioux helicopter, made famous by the film and television versions of M*A*S*H, transported 18,000 wounded soldiers during the conflict.

After a multiple train collision in London, ambulances in Britain were restructured to be a "mobile hospital", rather than just transporting patients, thus leading to modern ambulances.

Well-developed studies demonstrated the need for overhauling ambulance services. These studies placed pressure on governments to improve emergency care in general, including the care provided by ambulance services. Part of the result was the creation of standards in ambulance construction concerning the internal height of the patient care area (to allow for an attendant to continue to care for the patient during transport), and in the equipment (and thus weight) that an ambulance had to carry.

Few, or perhaps none of the then-available ambulances could meet these standards. 

Ambulance design therefore underwent major changes in the 1970s.

High-topped car-based ambulances were developed, but car chassis proved unable to accept the weight and other demands of the new standards

The "Bread Box" Ambulances were used from the late 1960's to late 1970's. Because of their resemblance to the bread delivery trucks of the 50's- the nickname stuck.

Built by Olson Truck Body, these bare bones ambulances featured a single wood cabinet for supplies, and a one level Ferno cot which rarely was removed from the ambulance in favor of the Poles and Pads stretcher. The Ambulance Technician could only sit on the crew bench, but frequently stood in the passenger side wheel well- "holding the pole" like a city transit bus.

The original Federal mechanical sirens were located in the engine compartment under the cab floor and shook the whole ambulance. They were moved to the grill guard in later models.

The early van-based ambulances looked very similar to their civilian counterparts, having been given a limited amount of emergency vehicle equipment such as audible and visual warnings, and the internal fittings for carrying medical equipment, most notably a stretcher.

Modern ambulances are now often custom built, and as well as the specialist medical equipment now built in to the ambulances, industry wide improvements in vehicle design have had an impact, including improvements in audible and visual warning equipment to help protect crews in vulnerable situations (such as at a Road Traffic Collision), and general improvements such as ABS, which are particularly valuable for ambulances, due to the speeds reached and the weight carried. There have also been improvements to help safeguard the health and welfare of ambulance crews, such as the addition of patient tail lifts, ramps and winches, to cut down on the amount of manual handling a crew must perform.

Ambulance design is still evolving, largely due to the growing skills and role of Paramedics and other ambulance crew, which require specialist equipment. Other factors driving improvement include the need to help protect ambulance crews from common accidents, such as traffic collisions and rarer, but potentially catastrophic incidents such as terrorist activities.

As you can see the vehicles our loved ones drive/ride in have come a long way!!!

**info obtained from Wikipedia and