Food for Thought

Note:  This post is related to my previous article on Ambulance Drivers.

Today when I inadvertently overheard my mom talking on the phone saying, “…you should just call the ambulance….”, something about that phrase bothered me or at least got me thinking.  Have you ever noticed that whenever someone calls 911 for medical assistance, or tells someone to call 911, they say, “Call the ambulance“.  Why not “Call the paramedics”?  When we need assistance with criminal offenses, we say “Call the police”, when we want someone to put out the fire that’s burning our house, we say, “There’s a fire! Call 911, get the firefighters.”  If I’m correct, we rarely if ever say, “Call the fire truck, call the police car”….that’s just absurd.  So why DO we say, “Call the ambulance?”  Not that using that phrase is wrong, but I think it does have an affect on people believing paramedics are just “ambulance drivers” or big white and red taxis.  I wonder how this phrase came about?

Postscript (October 11, 2009)

Thank you Nick for the comment.  You’re right on about how ambulances and “ambulance drivers” came before EMTs or Paramedics.  That is probably why the name stuck.  Here’s an article I ran into today by Marcus H who writes about paramedics as health care professionals and gives a bit of history of ambulance drivers, EMTs and paramedics:  The Real Paramedic.


One thought on “Food for Thought

  1. The first ambulances specifically used to transport patients to a medical facility were developed in the late 1700s in France by Dominique-Jean Larrey, surgeon-in-chief in Napoleon’s army. Larrey noted that it took almost a full day for wounded soldiers to be carried to field hospitals, and that most of them died in that time “from want of assistance.” To render more immediate aid and provide faster transportation, he designed a horse-drawn carriage staffed by a medical officer and assistant with room for several patients on stretchers.

    As you can see, ambulances came way before “paramedics”, so that’s perhaps why calling the ambulance has been ingrained in our language.

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