The history of ambulances in the US doesn’t quite date all the way back to colonial times. However, ambulances definitely date back at least to the 10th century in Anglo-Saxon Europe. Below, we will break down a brief history of ambulances and how they arrived in the United States in the 19th century.
Brief History of Ambulances and How They Arrived in the USA
The history of ambulances doesn’t start in the USA. Therefore, in order to fully break down the relevance of the first ambulances in the USA, we need to explore some of the history behind this invention. This way, we can fully understand how ambulances arrived in the USA.
How We Define an Ambulance
To be clear, an ambulance is a vehicle operated by an individual or group of individuals that is designed to comfortably fit and transport somebody in need of immediate medical care. Interestingly, there were ambulances before the car was invented.
First Time an Ambulance Was Recorded
The first time we can confirm the existence of an ambulance is in Anglo-Saxon Europe in the 900s. These first ambulances made use of hammocks, carts, and wheels, in order to transport injured people to help. It is likely that similar contraptions were used during conflicts such as the Crusades.
Horse Ambulances Created New Opportunities
During the Renaissance period of Europe, ambulances were first used in carriages that were drawn by horses. This was done by many European powers including France, Spain, the Normans, and so on. When horses began to be used, the idea for the modern ambulance began to come into play.
Introducing America’s First Ambulance: Key Information & Service Summary
During colonial times in the USA, it is likely that there were instances of people using horse-drawn carriages to transport injured people. However, we cannot confirm or deny this. It wasn’t until later on that ambulances started to become popularized and common throughout the USA.
The American Civil War Brought Lots of Innovation with It
The American Civil War is often referred to as the first modern war. During this time, those who were professionals in war flocked to the USA to be involved in the innovative technology and tactics that came about. One of these innovations was the first recorded ambulance in the USA. At first, the ambulances were two-wheel carts before evolving into four-wheeled designs that took wounded soldiers to steamboats and medical tents for further attention.
Hospitals Started Using Ambulances in the 1860s
When the American Civil War ended in 1865, the idea of the ambulance had already become popular. Anybody who had anything to do with the war was aware of the practicality of this technology. Commercial Hospital (Cincinnati) and Bellevue Hospital (New York) were the first hospitals that were recorded using ambulances during the late 1860s. Both of these hospitals were the pioneers that led to further ambulance innovation.
Automobile Ambulances Arrived in the 1900s
Right around the year 1924, the automobile had already burst onto the commercial scene. It wasn’t long afterward that people started to take advantage of this new technology. By the late 1920s, it was common to see automobile ambulances as part of a hospital’s assets. Once this happened, further innovations continued to take place throughout the 20th century. Today, the ambulances that we use in the USA pay a lot of thanks to the previous innovation that took place in the previous centuries.