May 28 to June 3 was national Emergency Medical Services week in Canada, celebrating the great work done by paramedics across the country. Compared to police and fire services, who have a history of hundreds of years, EMS is relatively new.
The concept of casualty treatment was an integral part of every conflict from the beginning of time, but an organized, highly trained provider of emergency care in towns and cities is really in its infancy. The first organized ambulance services set up to provide more than transport to a hospital (or morgue) came about because physicians had a desire to assist heart attack victims. There was also a dire need to treat victims of vehicle accidents. The first paramedic programs in North America were created in the early 1970s in Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Los Angles, California, Miami, Florida and Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The biggest boost to the concept of advanced care in the streets was a TV show called ‘Emergency!’ that starred two paramedics from Los Angeles County Fire Department. As the program aired across North America, many municipalities decided they wanted this level of care as well.
Jim Page, former publisher of The Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS), was an L.A. County battalion chief and served as a technical editor for the show. He is credited with ensuring the producer and director portrayed paramedics as professional and well-educated.
The two characters (actors Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe) became role models for a new breed of emergency services provider, the Paramedic.
When I spoke at EMS Expo in Las Vegas in 2008 I had the privilege of meeting ‘Emergency!’ actor Randolph Mantooth:
When you watch TV, how do you see EMS professionals portrayed? Are they treated as professionals or quickly dismissed?
Look at your most recent or biggest medical scene. Are you treating EMS with the same respect or with TV errors?
PS – Save the Date
Thursday, July 27th at 7 pm MST
I’m hosting my first online show, which will also be open to Facebook LIVE, “Dwayne Clayden’s First Aid for Writers”. I’ll answer your writing questions and get you thinking about medical and Canadian police procedures scenes and how to make them accurate and realistic.
If you have author and writing colleagues who would also benefit from this information, please invite them to join us.
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