Ralph's Ambulance, Used Cars, Wrecker Service, & Auto Parts, Stone KY, 1977 - 1979 (True story)
Marmet Fire/Rescue, Marmet, West Virginia, 1979 - 1981.
Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, Charleston West Virginia, 1981 - 1989.
EVAC Ambulance, Daytona Beach, Florida - 1989.
Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station EMS 1989 to present.
Attended the first EMT course in West Virginia in 1977 courtesy of Federal Grant Money procured by the late Senator Robert Bird to save us toothless inbreeds from a life of poverty & cousin marrying. Now we all knew this was an ignorant stereotype by the rest of the United States, but for a butt load of free Federal money, hand me that banjo, cousin Rufus. Same thing when I went to paramedic school in 1980. I didn't spend a dime for a free education. Thank you Senator Robert Bird (may he rest in peace). He knew how to fund a project.
But this was much more than a bridge to nowhere or a 4 lane freeway in the middle of Mingo County West Virginia or putting the FBI Training Center in the middle of the boonies. (I told you Senator Bird was the king of funding).
We were kids fresh out of high school inspired by the TV show "Emergency!" We were fired up to fend off tigers with a CO2 fire extinguishers or deliver breech twins with prolapse cords by car headlights while mom has seizures. (Did I mention the tigers?)
These early courses laid the groundwork for what would become modern EMS. The program could have died many times on the vine from lack of money. But we realized we could make a difference given the fact that 99% of ambulance services were run out of funeral homes at the time. A lead foot and a strong stomach were all that was required.
We began to deliver viable patients to the Emergency Rooms with a pulse. Patents were beginning to leave the hospitals with an intact brain and a decent prognosis. But...hospitals had to play catch-up with EMS. Williamson Memorial Hospital in Mingo County West Virginia (remember their 4 lane freeway in the heart of Coal Country because of Senator Bird?) had one Registered Nurse in the ER and God help the bastard who bleed on their white starched dresses and white hoses and white shoes. Don't forget the nurses cap. (I often wondered how they kept those things on their heads). They called the physician at home for orders and permission to pronounce the patient DRT (Dead Right There). They also had to call an x-ray tech and a lab tech to draw blood. These people had to drive in from home to ply their trade. But an unusual thing began to happen. We were delivering viable patients into the hospitals. Sad part was they were leaving supine with a toe tag the next morning. The hospital entrances would be clogged with funeral home wagons every morning picking up last night's ER customers. It wasn't until the mid 80s, early 90s that emergency rooms became emergency departments with Emergency Physicians and Emergency RNs and lab/CT scanners/x-ray techs 24-7. Patients who would have been declared dead just 5 years earlier were surviving to make it to Physical Therapy and sometimes back to a normal life.
OK, one more war story. Ralph's Ambulance Station was about 35 miles from the hospital on the Kentucky side of the Tug River. We had no radio contact with Ralph. But... we had a BAG OF DIMES!!! Yes boys and girls we had to stop at every pay phone on the way back to Stone Kentucky and ask Ralph's wife if she had any calls waiting. I kid you not.
It's fun to look back and reminisce the stone age of EMS. But we had to pass the baton to a new generation of Professional, Licensed (not certified) Health Care Providers. Someday you will pass the baton to the next generation with a 4 year degree and licensed by the state. Senator Bird would be proud.
Paramedic/EMS Battalion Chief at the Kennedy Space Center Fire/Rescue EMS. I've lived in Brevard County Florida since 1989. I was born in West Virginia.
Thanks for your quick response. Any you could send me would be appreciated. I can send you the same number in return if you'd like. Take care and be safe.
215 West End Avenue
Shirley, NY 11967
I am a Paramedic from New York and was wondering if you would like to swap patches. I would love to add them to my collection. Let me know if you would. Thanks. By the way, I like your pics of the shuttle launch. Take care and be safe.
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