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Ambulance History
By Mary Bellis

St John AmbulanceDuring the Crusades of the 11th Century, the Knights of St John received instruction in first-aid treatment from Arab and Greek doctors. The Knights of St John then acted as the first emergency workers, treating soldiers on both sides of the war of the battlefield and bringing in the wounded to nearby tents for further treatment. The concept of ambulance service started in Europe with the Knights of St John, at the same time it had also become common practice for small rewards to be paid to soldiers who carried the wounded bodies of other soldiers in for medical treatment.

The Surgeon-in-Chief of the French Grand Army, "Baron Dominiquie Larrey" created the first official army medical corp. in 1792. Trained attendants with equipment moved out from the field hospitals to give first-aid to the wounded on the battlefield and/or carried them back by stretcher, hand-carts and wagons to the field hospitals.

Motorized ambulance vehicles have been in use since the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1950s the United States pioneered helicopter-ambulances during the Korean War. In 1968, St Vincent's Hospital in New York City started the first mobile coronary care unit.

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image courtesy National Institutes of Health

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