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Feb. 13, 2023

Freedom House: Black EMS Pioneers

Freedom House: Black EMS Pioneers

Have you ever stopped to think about the origins of emergency medical services and the brave men and women who first answered the call to help those in need? In the upcoming episode of Staying On Code, I had the honor of speaking with John Moon, one of America's first paramedics and the first person to ever intubate someone outside of a hospital, and Kevin Hazzard, the author of American Sirens,  which tells the story of Freedom House, the first civilian ambulance service in the United States, and the Black men who are the pioneers of emergency medical services.

Freedom House was established in the 1960s in Pittsburgh to serve a Black community called the Hill District and revolutionized the field of emergency medicine by becoming the first ambulance service to offer advanced life support while transporting patients to the hospital.

Freedom House had a significant impact on Hill District, a community whose medical emergencies went largely ignored, by providing a level of medical care that was previously only available in hospitals. This not only saved lives, but it also helped to improve the health and well-being of the residents of Pittsburgh, as well as instill a sense of pride in members of the Hill District community.

Be sure to catch the latest episode, which airs Friday, February 17th, to hear the full interview with John Moon and Kevin Hazzard and learn more about the incredible story of Freedom House and the Black men who became America's first paramedics.

In the meantime, you can purchase the book at Resist Booksellers, the official bookstore for Staying On Code. American Sirens is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of emergency medical services and the trailblazers who paved the way for the modern ambulance system we have today. 

You can also enjoy this short documentary about Freedom House. 

If you’d like to read more on the topic of healthcare in the Black community, here are a few books to get you started.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
Medical Bondage: Race, Gender and the Origins of American Gynecology by Deirdre Cooper Owens
Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine
Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Healthcare by Dayna Bowen Matthew
An American Health Dilemma: A Medical History of African Americans and the Problem of Race: Beginnings to 1900 by W. Michael Byrd.

If you'd like to read about some Black pioneers in the field of medicine, take a few minutes to read this article. 

And that's all for this post, Ladies and Gentlemen. Until next time, Stay on code.