Grand-Daddy of NYC EMS

Apr 1, 2007
In 1869, Dr. Edward B. Dalton was hired to the position of Sanitary Superintendent of New York City. He had been what would be called in today's world a hospital administrator during the Civil War, in charge of a sprawling 200 acre, 1200 tent  hospital along the James River outside of Richmond, Va which cared for over 70,000 sick and wounded Union soldiers during the siege of Petersburg.  His job in New York was to design a plan for sanitary inspections, particularly in the Irish enclave of the Five Points.  As part of this, he developed a plan for "Rapid Response" to take sick and injured New Yorkers to the city's receiving hospital . . . Bellevue . . . using police wagons.  For some reason (I wonder why) this plan did not work out, but Dr Dalton had another solution.  Working with the Abbot-Downing Company of New Hampshire, he developed a stagecoach-based vehicle drawn by a single horse, yet sturdy enough to carry a driver, a surgeon, and two patients lying down (or eight sitting up).  Two of these vehicles were purchased, and Bellevue hired drivers and assigned interns to them.  These became the first emergency medical service in the City of New York.

Today's FDNY EMS is a direct descendant of these two polished black vehicles with "AMBULANCE" emblazoned on each side in gold lettering, with a gas lantern, night reflectors, and a foot-pedal operated bell to warn pedestrians. Inside were a couple of stretchers, a cabinet stocked with whiskey and bandages, a stomach pump for the poisoned and suicidal, and a straitjacket for those of "demonstrative disposition". One writer called it "the Victorian equivalent of a portable emergency room".

The above is taken from David Oshinsky's "Bellevue:Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital" . . . a great read.

Aug 29, 2008
That could possibly be my grandfather (on my mother's side) on the ambulance pictured above. He indeed was an ambulance operator at Bellevue with the horse team.
Jun 15, 2012
  Fantastic Stuff, Ray ! Many Thanks,  8)

The First, NYC EMS ALS Unit !

MM; Emergency Service Runs in The Family.  ;)