Forty Years of Paramedics - EMS Week 2016

In December of 1971, Willoughby Hills Fire Chief Charles Schumacher announced that fourteen firemen would begin “first aid training” at Richmond Heights General Hospital with the long range intent to “qualify our firemen for paramedical teams for ambulance rescue purposes”.

Prior to this, it had been standard practice for local police departments and funeral homes to provide ambulance service to those in need.

Because of Chief Schumachers commitment to the program, Willoughby Hills Mayor Donald Campbell issued a memo in May of 1972 stating: “ Effective June 1, 1972, on Mondays through Fridays, from the hours of 8 am to 4 pm, Fire Vehicle #120 will be first out for all calls requiring ambulance rescue service, Police vehicle #22 will act as a back-up”.

Hospital board members and emergency room physicians were some of the most outspoken critics of the paramedic program. One board member from Lake County stated “These ninety-day wonders come along and want to perform airway intubation. The next thing they will want to do will be perform delivering babies by Caesarian section. That kind of thing should only be done in a hospital. I want a doctor looking after me if I get hurt. I don't want a guy like a medic in the army (this was shortly after the Vietnam War) helping me and giving me medicine I don't need”

In July of 1976, at the urging of Willoughby Hills Fire Chief Charles Schumacher, an eighteen-member advisory committee was formed to act as a liaison with the State of Ohio Advisory Council and Board of Regents. These Councils were formed with the passage of House Bill 832, and with the support of Governor Rhodes went in to effect on September 1, 1976. Thanks, in part to this tenacious local effort, the Paramedic Program was instituted in the State of Ohio.

Thousands owe a debt of gratitude to these visionary leaders ~