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Wednesday, 3 August 2011


In 1191 a pioneering ambulance service was undertaken by the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, a charitable organization originally set up to care for sick pilgrims to the Holy Land. The Hospitallers, who had received instruction in first-aid treatment from Greek and Arab doctors, organized horse-drawn carts to transport men wounded in battle during the Third Crusade back into their own lines for treatment instead of being left to die. It was also common practice for small rewards to be paid to soldiers who carry the wounded bodies of other soldiers in for medical treatment.

During the Italian campaign in the late 1700s the French general Napoleon’s private surgeon, Baron Dominique Larrey developed an ambulance system whereby wounded soldiers on the battlefield could quickly receive help by means of trained attendants giving first-aid with medical equipment moved out from the field hospitals. If the injury was serious stretcher - bearers took them immediately from the battlefield to the field hospitals by stretcher, hand-carts and wagons.

The word “ambulance” is derived from the French word “ambulant” meaning it is "moving." It refers back to the first temporary field hospitals during the Napoleonic Wars, which moved with the army and in their French description were known as hôpital ambulant.

The first civilian ambulance service was set up in 1892 in Brisbane, Australia. After witnessing an accident at the Brisbane Exhibition, Seymour Warrian founded the City Ambulance Transport Brigade.

The first motorised ambulance service was set up in central London in 1905 using four vehicles.

McDonald's founder Ray Croc and Walt Disney both lied about their age to serve in World War I and served in the same Red Cross ambulance company. 

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