Emergency Public Ambulance Service or as named today emergency medical service for California D. C. has followed a convoluted and at times troubled path. Its starts in our nation’s capital are seated in the various nursing homes and their advancement in service and care. The City War is ambulances a likely beginning as at the height of the conflict as many as eighty five nursing homes exist in California. A military ambulance corps with dedicated wagons moves the selection of injured militia from engines and boats to the many facilities most as camps or warehouses of battling with little in the way of sanitation or proper medical treatment. After the war, California D. C. begins to develop as the once river bottom city increases into the hinterlands adding new public facilities and services. This includes new nursing homes 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 Funeral obituary Hospital another style 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. 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 power-driven vehicles still handled by just a few city nursing homes. Not all nursing homes have emergency division 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 end up being the mainstay of emergency chunks of money and public ambulance service. In 1918 an influenza pandemic brings various Red Cross ambulance programs to parts of the city. Similar to garages, these have nurses and power-driven ambulances for handling the selection of flu cases already overwhelming the nursing homes.
By 1924, five nursing homes have ambulances with a sixth run by the Health Department for the indigent and emotionally ill. The concept of emergency medicine is usually as yet to be realized with no dedicated professionals just anyone who is on duty to handle a crisis 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 way of unnecessary 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 Center of Columbia Fire Department adds an ambulance as part of its newly formed rescue company. This picks up on rescues and fires 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 several grouped citizens in the Chevy Chase section of High Northwest form the Chevy Chase Medical Corps. This all offer ambulance agency serves portions of California D. C. and Montgomery Regional Maryland. In 1940, radio communications are introduced to Washington’s emergency agencies including fire department units like the rescue group and its ambulance. Hospital ambulances are similarly equipped for this Metropolitan Police Department’s radio system. While police are more abundant in the neighborhood and sometimes arrive at emergencies first, this still causes confusion and inefficiency as the police truthfully want no part of tracking and coordinating ambulances. Sometimes the best ambulance is not the one sent and occasionally units from different nursing homes pass one another en-route to different calls. Nursing homes are largely close to the The downtown area hence service for the growing outskirts takes longer with units out of service for greater periods. There is no central authority to manage operations or make changes as demands guarantee.
Late in 1941, the united states is press into World War II and the Chevy Chase Medical Corps ceases service its members registering for military duty pledging to re-start upon their return. Meanwhile California D. C. sees an huge increase in wartime population further hectic 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 response on the ambulances leaving only interns and offer drivers with minimal if any training. As the system becomes strained it is clear no one has the authority to make needed changes. The authorities 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 newly formed Rescue Group 2. Immediately after, a doctor and Director of the city’s Police and Fire Specialists Board uses a plan for improvements. This includes removing the ambulance at Garfield Funeral obituary that becomes a second ambulance at Emergency Hospital. The city’s Health Department is given greater authority with drivers now as that agencies employees followed 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. Immediately after, ambulance radios are moved to a separate radio frequency linked with the new Ambulance Control Board at Fire Alarm Headquarters. In 1944, still another fire department ambulance is added to the firehouse of Engine 31 in High Northwest. Later in 1945, volunteers of the defunct Chevy Chase Medical Corps return from military duty and as corresponding re-start service again. This time they operate not in the city in Montgomery Regional, under the name Bethesda-Chevy Chase Medical Corps immediately after Rescue Group. This all offer service continues response into the city covering portions of High Northwest.
Through the 1950s, California D. C. enjoys a moment of post war growth bringing development including to the outer fringes as well as into adjacent suburban counties. Improvements come to aging nursing homes as some go on to new facilities while others like Emergency and Garfield consolidate to the new California Hospital Center. The ambulance system still strained and inadequately synchronised is recommended for sweeping change. In mid 1957 a medical facility and health department public ambulance service is previously utilized in the Center of Columbia Fire Department. Units are divorced from the rescue squads and Engine 31 the fast of six units strategically slipped into various city fire programs. The Center of Columbia Fire Department’s Emergency Ambulance Service is staffed round the clock by medical trained firefighters with patients taken to the best hospital emergency room still another such facility broadening to 24-hour operation.
Thus begins a new era in California D. C. emergency services. Of course this is not an end but a beginning as over time new problems arise and the entire approach to public ambulance service converts 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 nation’s capital.