Paramedic – A Look back at the First 100 Years – Part 1

2066.  100 years since the White Paper that solidified what some communities were already learning:  Paramedics were needed to help in communities that had no doctors.  We were born of trauma.  Accidental death was our crib and cardiac arrest our playroom.  In our adulthood we expanded into the community and dealt with chronic health issues.  Now reaching 100 years young there is so much farther we can go.  But to know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been.

It’s easy to forget where we came from.  Not just back to the ancient times when drivers had wagons and horses, or when the hearses (I still can’t believe we buried our dead) began to treat people, but at the decades that propelled Paramedicine into the respected Profession we practice today.

In this series I’ll be covering all manner of advancement in care, organization, education and funding, but I wanted to start off by clearing up some myths about the early days of Paramedics.  These are all 100% accurate, as I have referenced texts from the time.

Let’s start with one of the Urban Legends of Paramedicine:

Chemical reversal of death - It is true.  It can now be confirmed, based on texts from the day, that Paramedics (Often called EMTs back then) would inject patients suffering from cardiac arrest with cardiotoxic chemicals that they thought would mimic the heart tissue’s natural functions.  There were no balloon pumps back then and hypothermia had yet to become rapid onset using the sheaths.  Although they did begin to cool patients using cold packs and cold venous injections (transdermal fluids were decades away), many patients were likely inadvertently killed as a result of this practice.  Some research was recovered that showed dismal success rates, but it wasn’t until the H6N3 epidemic in 2023, when stockpiles of cardiotoxins were depleted and survival did not worsen, that the industry finally took notice and eliminated their use entirely.

It was the Paramedics that rose up during the epidemic that overwhelmed the hospitals of the day, which quickly became incubators for the rapidly mutating infection.  It was the mobility of the Paramedics that allowed for continued care when the hospitals shut down for months to be disinfected.

Combined with AEDs (ShockDocks) installed as frequently as fire extinguishers survival from cardiac arrest improved.  It was not the hospitals that led the change, but the Paramedics who fought for common sense technology in the community.  When MRI and Xray were still not in the patient’s home, they stood up and demanded change.

It is worrisome that it took something drastic for Paramedics to look at their own practices for efficacy instead of demanding proof before using it that it would do no harm.

 

Next time: A lead on the curious boards used to apparently keep drivers from falling into traffic.

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