Friday, August 21, 2015

Ambulance Tidbits

Below is a report from a Harford, CT. Report based on 1899. I find these tidbits helpful in a couple of ways. One, is the mileage the ambulance travels, the amount of calls it went out on in one year and the costs. Anyway, see what you might use to spark research for your own writing.

HARTFORD, Conn., March 5, 1900. To the Honorable Court of Common Council:
The Board of Police Commissioners of the City of Hartford would respectfully call your attention to the disadvantages under which they are operating the ambulance service, and to the great burden, and to the obstruction of other work in the department such as a Police department is ordinarily organized for.
To make it more evident to you what amount of service is performed for ambulance calls alone, we have requested the Chief of Police to tabulate the number of box calls, telephone calls, and ambulance calls; also the number of miles traveled by the patrol wagon, number of miles by the Black Maria, and the number of miles by the ambulance. All of these are for the past two years, each tabulated separately. Such information is submitted herewith.

In the year ending March 31, 1899, the number of ambulance calls were 561, and the miles traveled by the ambulance were 1683, as against 1799 patrol wagon calls and 1148 miles traveled by patrol wagon.
The appropriations for Ambulance service, during the past year was $1500.

In order to eflect this service properly, the drivers of the department are obliged not only to be subject to the calls for the patrol wagon, but also for service on the Black Maria, and to be subject to immediate call for ambulance service. We have, as you are aware, only two drivers, one for day duty and one for night duty.' During the past year, these two drivers have been obliged to respond to a total of 2468 calls, of which 544 were for ambulance service, or twenty per cent. of the total number of calls.

In order to effect this service, we have been obliged to traverse 4671 miles, of which 1635 were by the ambulance, or more than thirty per cent; and the number of miles traversed for ambulance service were 1635 as against 1192 for patrol wagon service. And to efl'ect this service we have only two pairs of horses.

In responding to ambulance calls we use only one 'horse, which is obliged to draw a heavy ambulance and in addition to the service on the patrol wagon and Black Maria, with the pair. This service wears out the horses exceedingly fast, and prevents them from being in good condition to make swift trips with the patrol wagon, which is very desirable. We would ask your comparison of this work, by two pairs of horses. both as to number of miles and number of calls, with any two pairs of horses now in use by the Fire Department. One pair of horses is in such condition now that they will not be adequate for our service for more than a month or so longer, at the utmost.

The annual allowance given to us is 81500. As against this, we would call your attention to the fact that we are constantly employing two men at a salary of $1001). each to maintain this service. Our repairs, and the services of ambulance surgeons, amount to 8252. Also, should be taken into consideration : wear and tear of horses; horse shoeing made necessary by this extra service; fodder; straw; harness and frequent renewals thereof, blankets and their cleaning and renewals; and many other items which, though they enter into our expenses as a department, are not adequately provided for in the appropriation.

In additiOn to this, the drivers are practically obliged to take care of their own horses; and immediately on return from a call, and before the horses are put into condition, they are almost inevitably called out again for other services.

In no other city, as far as we can discover, is the ambulance maintained by the Police Department. It is always a subject of care by the hospitals, by whom it is maintained either by voluntary contributions or by an appropriation from the municipal government, or, in a few cases, maintained by the Charities Departments.

We have conferred with the authorities at the Hartford Hospital, and they seem willing to assume (although they have not positively stated that they will do so) the care and maintenance of the ambulance, provided a reasonable appropriation is made for the same by the City government. But they state that such service cannot be maintained for less than 82500. a year. '

The feed bills, harness bills, horse shoeing bills, and other bills for repairs, have been largely increased by services rendered in the ambulance department; and we have found it very difficult to keep wllhin our appropriation, and especially this year when we were obliged to make many additional improvements in the Police Station, taken out of our regular appropriation for police service.

We respectfully represent that this service is: First, unusual. Second, that it is very onerous and burdensome. Third, that it over-works the drivers. Fourth, that it over-works the horses. Fifth, that it incurs an expense which cannot be made apparent to the Ways and Means committee in making their estimates for our general appropriation.

The calls made by this service are from the hospitals, from the railroads, from individuals, and from calls by the police themselves. In fact the ambulance seems to be subject tO‘the service of everyone who may choose to call upon it.

Our force is at present not adequate to cover the territory which we are obliged to patrol. It leaves us with only one officer in the station besides the Chief and a driver.
The oflice man is frequently called away on this ambulance duty, and when the driver is out with the patrol wagon it leaves the station in charge of the Chief without a single extra man, who is subject to outside calls in cases of emergency.

We, therefore, respectfully request that you consider our petition to withdraw from us the ambulance service, and place it in charge of either the Hartford Hospital or the Charities Department. It is understood, however, that if the Hartford Hospital assumes this service that they are willing to answer allc alls from St. Francis’ Hospital, from the Charities Department, from the Alms House, and for any general service, and also furnish the ambulance surgeons. .
Respectfully submitted,


  1. Interesting post. I wasn't aware there was ambulance service that early.

    1. Neither was I, Vickie, having read the report my brains started seeing all kinds of conflict for our historicals.

  2. I'm curious to know the outcome of the appeal. Do you know what was decided?

    1. Hi Danna,
      No, I don't however, that would be a fun thing to track down. If you find the answer please share it here.