The History of Emergency Medicine
The history of Emergency Medicine is an inexact study. The actual beginning date is unknown. This paper attempts to combine the facts given from many different sources into one single overview of known history from approximate known dates.
It should also be stated that although Emergency Medicine Services, as a system exists all over the United States, it is in no way uniform. The laws governing emergency medical personnel and their actions differ greatly from state to state. This paper, when stating current Emergency Medicine Services conditions, will be referring to California for the most part.
Starting in the early 1960's, many states passed legislation that protected individuals who stopped to help at the scene of an emergency. This legislation helped shield these individuals from liability. So long as the individual was providing assistance in good faith, and without gross negligence, he was protected (Department of Transportation, I-20).
In 1966 Congress created the National Highway Safety Administration under the already existent United States Department of Transportation. This new administration was given the authority to issue guidelines for state emergency medical systems and to formulate the emergency medical technician (EMT) training program. The administration established professional requirements for EMT's, and their capabilities were expanded well beyond those of earlier ambulance personnel. (Emergency Medical Technicians, 1).
American Paramedics were originally trained military medical personnel who were first utilized in the Korean War. Under certain circumstances, these specialists were parachuted into hard-to-access locations. The name Paramedic came from a military medic who also was trained to parachute. Today the prefix "para" is taken to mean, "closely resembling" (Emergency Medical Technicians, 3).
The goal of the Department of Transportation was to package all the information gained from military experience of medical care in the field into a system able to be used in the private sector. This system must be able to train personnel who could provide field intervention medicine, or technical intervention that quickly turned near death victims into surviving patients (Department of Transportation, I-8).
In 1967 one of the first such systems was set up in Pittsburgh. "Unemployables" of the black ghetto were trained in basic life support for pre-hospital, ambulance use. For these individuals, who were not accustomed to the medical profession, the world of emergency care was a shock. Special stresses and constraints existed when rendering CPR in a crowded restaurant, childbirth in a city park, or patient care through the window of a wrecked automobile (Caroline, ix).
In California the Wedworth-Townsend Paramedic Act, passed in 1970, it provided permission for certain counties to establish experimental programs to test the use of Paramedics for emergency care in the field. It...