The History of Medical Transportation

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The History of Medical Transportation

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Medical transportation has been around for centuries but we may not know exactly where it first started. Most of the developments in the medical transportation industry were developed and implemented by the military; transporting wounded soldiers on battlefields to field hospitals and permanent hospitals. In the United States in the 60s, the growing popularity of the automobile and automobile accidents made the civilian necessity of a complete emergency medical transportation system apparent.

Today we enjoy the use of a well-developed system to help patients get to and from the hospital or medical care center whether it is an emergency or not.

The idea of a hospital has been traced back to ancient Egypt circa 4000 B.C. These Egyptian temples are the first known institutions that focused on providing cures for illnesses.

The presence of hospitals in Ceylon by 431 B.C. has been documented.

With the presence of hospitals for these hundreds of years, there may have been some kind of medical transportation to bring people to the hospital; most think that it was probably the responsibility of the individual or the family to get a patient to a care facility.

In 1080 AD, monks, who eventually became the Knights of St. John took on the role of evacuating injured colleagues and enemies from the battlefield and rendering medical aid.

The Spanish Army employed horse drawn carts or wagons with attendants to transport the wounded to field hospitals as early as April of 1487 during the 40 days Siege of Malaga.

In North America, medical transportation can be traced back to Native American societies. Horse or dog drawn stretchers (travois) were used to transport the debilitated.

The first hospital in the colonial states of America was established by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond in 1751.

During those times if injured or taken ill, patients needed to arrange for their own transport, often the person or their family would just use any available cart, buggy or wagon.

During the American Revolution, Americans realized the need existed for extensive and rapid transportation of the medically needy, especially the battle wounded, to designated medical facilities. Documents reveal the thought that went into creating a system. The amount of mobile and stationary hospitals, location, staffing, the extrication of the injured to remote treatment facilities, transportation between immediate and regional military hospitals were all considered. The Continental Congress enacted laws to create a national military medical system including providing physicians with wagons and drivers whenever patients needed conveyance the the general hospital.

Many soldiers, after initial treatment and depending on their need for continued care, would be moved again to another medical institution; certainly an example of non-emergency medical transportation, where the soldiers did not need emergency care during transportation.

"Medical staff and materia chirurgica Wellcome L0040931" by Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Many consider Dominique Jean Larrey to be the first to use the ambulance as a specialized vehicle. Larrey, Napoleon’s chief surgeon, designed ‘flying ambulances’ to use on the battlefield in 1797.

In the Civil War, Americans adopted some of Larrey’s ideas for transporting wounded soldiers.

Surgeon General William Hammond and Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac put medical transportation into practice and developed a system for transporting the wounded. In the battle of Fredericksburg over 9,000 soldiers were transported, treated and hospitalized within 24 hours.

In 1864 President Lincoln signed into law legislation that established a standardized system of ambulance service throughout the military.

Following the Civil War several hospitals through the country maintained the ambulance services that they had created to transport soldiers. In 1865, Commercial Hospital in Cincinnati established what is generally considered as the first regular ambulance service for the general public in the United States.

In Great Britain a special vehicle was invented to transport the sick and injured. It was called a St. Johns Ambulance after the monks turned Knights of St. John from the 11th century. The operators of these vehicles received formalized education with a standard curriculum training for the care of patients both at the scene and in transit.

In 1899 the first motorized ambulance was made in Chicago, IL. It was donated to a nearby hospital by five local businessmen.

In the 20th century local governments and hospitals invented and continued their own homegrown version of the EMS.

In 1928 the Roanoke Life Saving and First Aid Crew was inaugurated. Throughout the 20s and 30s, numerous volunteer EMS groups incorporated and began serving local areas. By 1939 there were nearly 5,000 American Red Cross posts and mobile aid units with trained volunteers across the country.

The next few decades saw little development in the medical transportation field. In most cities the primary providers of this services were police and fire departments and even funeral homes.

In the mid 60s increasing automobile accidents prompted ambulance transportation to be recognized as a covered beneficiary service. In 1965, more people died in auto accidents than in 8 years of the Vietnam War. The National Highway Safety Act was signed into law.

Over the next few decades the business side of non-emergency medical transportation developed. Now with the aging baby boomer generation, non-emergency medical transportation is more prevalent than ever. When a person is in need of transportation to receive medical attention, but medical care during transportation is not necessary, there are many options. Goodfaith Medical Transportation Co., Inc. is proud to be one of those options.




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EZ-Trans, Inc.

1626 South Central Avenue
Glendale, CA 91204

Phone: 1-800-551-1555

Hours of operation:
Monday through Friday 7am to 6pm