Timeline of emergency medical response

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This is a timeline of emergency medical response, which refers to the immediate and coordinated medical assistance provided to individuals experiencing a sudden illness, injury, or life-threatening situation.

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Time period Development summary More details
19th century In the late 1800s, both in the United States and Europe, there is an acknowledgment of the necessity to establish structured medical aid systems. This need extends beyond providing assistance solely to those injured in times of war, encompassing emergencies during periods of peace as well.

Full timeline

Year Event type Details
900 A.D. Wagons with hammocks are used as ambulances, but lack effective brakes.[1]
1792 French surgeon Dominique-Jean Larrey introduces the concept of ambulance volantes (flying ambulances) during the French Revolutionary Wars.[2]
1792 Larrey and Pierre Francois Percy, both notable figures in the French military medical field, collaborate and devise a revolutionary medical wagon known as the "flying ambulance" or "Ambulace volante" in French. This remarkable creation is designed to address the urgent need for efficient and swift transportation of injured soldiers from the battlefield to nearby field hospitals.[3]
1797 The innovations introduced by Larrey and Percy in the field of medical transportation are implemented on a larger scale. During the first Italian Campaign, a battalion of "ambulance soldiers" is formed within the French Army. This battalion consists of doctors, noncommissioned officers, and a troop of orderly stretcher-bearers. Additionally, they are equipped with the newly designed flying ambulances, allowing for efficient evacuation of soldiers from the battlefield.[3]
1863 The International Committee for the Relief of the Wounded is created. Eventually, this committee would evolve into the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).[3]
1864 Geneva Convention introduces ambulances as part of its agreement for the treatment of the wounded.[1]
1865 The first civilian ambulance service in the United States is founded by the Commercial Hospital in Cincinnati. This service utilizes horse-drawn wagons as the early form of ambulances.[4]
1869 An ambulance service is established in New York by Edward B. Dalton, a former military surgeon, and the sanitary superintendent at the Metropolitan Board of Health, in collaboration with Bellevue Hospital. This service is staffed by physicians and was dedicated to providing medical assistance in emergencies. It introduces specialized equipment for the treatment of patients, both at the scene of the emergency and during transportation to the hospital. The ambulance service is equipped with various tools and supplies to aid in patient care. This includes stretchers for safe transportation, handcuffs and straightjackets for managing unruly patients, and a box containing essential medical items such as brandy, tourniquets, bandages, sponges, splint material, and persulfate of iron. The establishment of this ambulance service marks a significant development in providing organized and professional medical assistance in New York during emergencies.[3][1]
1883 A group of concerned citizens in Vienna, Austria, found the Vienna Voluntary Rescue Society. This is the first ambulance service in Europe. The society is created in response to the fire at the Ring Theatre in 1881, which killed at least 384 people and injured hundreds more. The rescue operation at the Ring Theatre was poorly organized, and the responding firefighters were unable to do much to help the victims. This tragedy led to a public outcry for better emergency medical services.[3]
1887 The St. John Ambulance Brigade is established in London, England. It is modeled on a military-style command and discipline structure, and it is originally intended to provide first aid and ambulance services at public events.[3]
1899 Chicago sees the introduction of the first motorized ambulance at Michael Reese Hospital.[1]
1900 St. Vincent Hospital in New York obtains its first horseless ambulance.[1]
1906 Ambulance manufacturing company Hess and Eisenhardt produces motor-driven ambulances.[1]
1916 Russian surgeon Vladimir Oppel makes significant advancements in the field of military casualty management by refining a system based on the concept of prioritization originally proposed by Pirogov. Oppel's goal is to develop a unified doctrine that encompasses both the triage process and the subsequent management of casualties in military settings. Oppel's system focuses on effectively prioritizing and managing casualties based on the severity of their injuries and the urgency of their medical needs. By implementing a systematic approach, it aims to ensure that the right level of care was provided to each individual based on their condition.[3][5][6]
1937 The UK's 999 emergency call telephone service, is first introduced in the London area. It is considered the first in the world. The implementation of this system is prompted by a tragic incident that occurred on November 10, 1935. During a fire in a house on Wimpole Street, five women lost their lives.[7]
1937 O'Gara-Hess and Eisenhardt builds the first air-conditioned ambulance in the United States.[1]
1996 The first biphasic waveform for use in an automated external defibrillator (AED) is approved in the United States. The use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) becomes more widespread. These portable devices deliver electric shocks to restore normal heart rhythms in cardiac arrest patients, increasing survival rates.[8]
2014 The World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Medical Teams (EMT) initiative is created with the goal of improving the coordination and quality of medical response during disasters and emergencies worldwide.
2020 The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the critical role of emergency medical response in managing public health crises. Emergency medical personnel plays a crucial role in testing, contact tracing, and administering vaccines to combat the pandemic.

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External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Evolution of the Ambulance - Fire History". firehistory.weebly.com. Retrieved 10 July 2023. 
  2. Welling, David R.; Burris, David G.; Rich, Norman M. (September 2010). "The influence of Dominique Jean Larrey on the art and science of amputations". Journal of Vascular Surgery. 52 (3): 790–793. ISSN 1097-6809. doi:10.1016/j.jvs.2010.02.286. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Goniewicz, Mariusz (May 2013). "Effect of Military Conflicts on the Formation of Emergency Medical Services Systems Worldwide". Academic Emergency Medicine. 20 (5): 507–513. doi:10.1111/acem.12129. 
  4. kbrandenburg@bgdailynews.com/783-3242, KATIE BRANDENBURG, The Daily News (13 September 2012). "Hearses served as ambulances at one time". Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved 10 July 2023. 
  5. Góra S. [ Outlines of military surgery] [Polish]. Warsaw, Poland: PZWL, 1976, pp 11– 14.
  6. Shabrov AV, Topuzov EG, Romaniuk VP. Surgeon V.A. Oppel-an organizer of medical affairs (on the 120th anniversary of his birth). Vestn Khir Im I I Grek. 1993; 151: 124– 6
  7. "999 - the world's first emergency telephone number". Bite Sized Britain - Britain’s amazing history and culture. Retrieved 10 July 2023. 
  8. "Part 4: The Automated External Defibrillator: Key Link in the Chain of Survival". Circulation. 102 (suppl_1). 22 August 2000. doi:10.1161/circ.102.suppl_1.I-60.