Over forty years ago, long before television ever dreamed of “Emergency”, a quiet revolution was beginning in Pittsburgh PA. An audacious improbable experiment was begun. Over the ensuing years, it was to provide the national standards for pre-hospital emergency care. The experiment went by the name of “Freedom House Ambulance Service”and embodied the disparate dreams of several dozen people.
In 1967 Phillip Hallen advanced the idea of high quality emergency medical service. Phillip was president of the Maurice Falk Medical Fund, a former ambulance driver, and Chairman of the OEO Health Committee. Morton Coleman, of Pitt’s Graduate School of Social Work, suggested combining an ambulance service with a program to train unemployed and underemployed black men and women as medical technicians. Searching for an owner/operator Hallen approached the recently formed Freedom House Enterprises, Inc. (FHE). FHE was an outgrowth of the United Negro Protest Committee located at 2027 Centre Avenue. In an unprecedented partnership with Dr. Peter Safar, known as the Father of CPR; a world leader in resuscitation research; and other pioneers in emergency medicine, Freedom House Paramedics began. Starting from a base in Presbyterian and Mercy Hospitals in 1968, they became the first Paramedics in the United States.
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