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In 1967, long before television ever dreamed of Emergency, a quiet revolution was beginning in Pittsburgh PA. An audacious, improbable experiment which was, over the ensuing years to provide the national standards for prehospital emergency care (Paramedics). The experiment went by the name of: Freedom House Enterprises Ambulance Service and embodied the disparate dreams of several dozen people.





Freedom House Ambulance Service started out as a poverty program. to help the blacks and underpriviledged in the Ghetto Community namely the Hill District in Pittsburgh. And it was out of this mix that the audacious, improbable idea of Freedom House Ambulance took shape. Take 40 peoples off the streets corners, and pool halls, half hadn't finished High School. Get them GED's and train them to provide the most sophisticated emergency medical care possible, to provide this care, not in the hospital, but at the emergency. Freedom House also helped changed the way ambulances are designed equipped and operated throughout the world.

It was madness back in 1967. Racism was rampet. It was hard enough to persuade anyone that a layman could be trained to give sophisticated resuscitative care, especially underprivileged blacks. Why load the dice against the experiment and chose laymen least likely to succeed? That is precisely what Freedom House proposed to accomplish and did.




Trained by Dr Safar, the chairman of the department of anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Father of CPR, the Freedom House Paramedics and EMT's not only excelled, but people in the middle class communities wanted this sophisticated medical service in their neighborhoods. That is when Freedom House met it's downfall.





The city decided to launch it's own mobile intensive care service. There was no room in the city plans for a predomity black independent entity called Freedom House. By early autumn of 1975, it was clear that city funding would not be renewed. Negotiations began between the city and Freedom House to sell FHE equipment to the city and to facilitate the hiring of FHE personnel into the city system. The city also hired and trained it's own Paramedics.





After eight years of dedicating their lives to Freedom House, the employees had to watch as white trainees were hired onto administrative level positions with the new city service. The original Freedom House employees had now grown from unemployables to a level comparable to the best paramedics in the nation. Some had earned bachelor's degrees, a few had master's degree and three were pre-med. And now they were once again jobless.





After eight years of dedicating their lives to Freedom House, the employees had to watch as white trainees were hired onto administrative level positions with the new city service. The original Freedom House employees had now grown from unemployables to a level comparable to the best paramedics in the nation. Some had earned bachelor's degrees, a few had master's degree and three were pre-med. And now they were once again jobless.





It was a really significant piece of Pittsburgh's racial history which has been lost.