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Emergency Medical Services - EMS

Ralph Cooper - Director
2523 Hwy 76 East
Marion, SC  29571
Phone: 843-275-6116
Fax: 843-431-5015 
Marion County Emergency Medical Services:
Marion County EMS currently operates three advanced life support ambulances everyday staffed with two
personnel each, working a rotating shift of 24/ 48 hours.   Marion County EMS has five licensed ambulances
in which two are spares. Marion County EMS is a licensed Advanced Life Support Service through
DHEC. Marion County EMS responds to approximately 5,000 calls annually. There are three stations
located throughout the County.  Marion County is 494 square miles and has a population of 35,466 people. 
All employees attend a minimum of four hours of training per month in order to maintain their skills and certification.

Prior to 1974, pre-hospital emergency care in many areas of South Carolina meant a quick ride to the closest hospital in a funeral home hearse or other readily available vehicles and medical care by volunteers with varying degrees of training. In the heavier populated cities, however, there were a few designated ambulance services capable of providing basic levels of emergency care as early as the late 1960s. At that time, most personnel were trained by the military medical services corps -- many of whom continued their training and still work in Emergency Medical Services today.

From the early 1970s to the late 1990s pre-hospital emergency care has grown to become a sophisticated system of emergency medical care. Today's system includes three levels of state certification for professional emergency medical technicians, licensed ambulances stocked with the newest technical medical equipment, paid county and private pre-hospital emergency care providers, and core groups of dedicated volunteers. An organized system of medical control and a system of designated trauma centers are also in place. This tremendous change was launched with the passing of the federal Emergency Medical Services Act in 1973 and the federal funding initiatives that followed. As a result, South Carolina passed its own Emergency Medical Services Act in 1974, creating standards and regulations for the improvement of emergency medical services and forming a state EMS Advisory Council and its membership.

The History of the Ambulance
From the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) From the earliest times, people have required a means of transporting their wounded and sick. The first wounded were probably carried in a hammock strung between two poles. Other unique conveyances included human dhooleys which were used in India; wicker cradles called mule panniers; and Egyptian camel litters. The Mojave Indians devised a litter comprised of a sheet of canvas between two poles carried on the shoulders of two men.
A more formalized ambulance surfaced in the late 15th century when Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain took an unprecedented interest in the welfare of their troops during their crusade against the Moors. Surgical and medical supplies were brought together in special tents for the wounded called ambulancias.

The concept of the ambulance was developed further by a man named Dominique-Jean Larrey who had been appalled by the neglected wounded and poor medical conditions he had witnessed during France’s war with the Austrians and Prussians in 1792. Larrey came up with the idea of mobile ambulances -- light-weight, two-wheeled vehicles which stayed with the troops and allowed surgeons to work on the battlefield, an idea he later refined for Napoleon during the General’s Italian campaign.
The evolution of the ambulance took yet another turn during the American Civil War when ambulances were too few, often late, and driven by civilian drunkards and thieves. A physician named Jonathan Letterman reorganized the field medical service to provide an effective ambulance service for the evacuation of battle casualties.

In 1864, an act was passed in Congress entitled “An Act to Establish a Uniform System of Ambulances in the Armies of the United States,” which spelled out who was responsible for each phase of the ambulance system.
During the 1864 Convention in Geneva, an agreement was made by several European countries to recognize the neutrality of hospitals, of the sick and wounded, of all persons connected with relief service, and the adoption of a protective sign or badge. In America, a similar organization had been functioning during the Civil War. The Sanitary Commission, which 20 years later became the American Red Cross, was brought into being in large part due to the efforts of Clara Barton.

Most ambulance innovations took place during wartime, which was then adapted to civilian life. American hospitals initiated their own ambulance services during the late 1860s. Horse-drawn, these ambulances had a moveable floor that could be drawn out to receive the patient. Beneath the driver’s seat was a container with a quart of brandy, two tourniquets, six bandages, six small sponges, splint material, blankets, and a two-ounce vial of persulphate of iron.

With the arrival of the automobile came a different type of ambulance, the first appearing in 1899. During World War I, many ambulances were adapted from buses and taxis. The world’s oldest builder of ambulances is the Hess and Eisenhardt Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1937, they sold the first air-conditioned ambulance built in America. Developed with the idea that the ambulance should be a pre-hospital emergency room, these precursors of the modern ambulance were filled with medicine cabinets, roof lights, and two-way radios.

The ambulance service has not been confined to ground units. During the Civil War, train ambulances and steamboat hospitals were used, and streetcar/trolley ambulances were popular in some cities in the late 1800s. More recently, the Star of Life, a water cruiser, began to operate under the direction of the Coast Guard and Marine Police in 1976.
And the “medicopter” is commonplace now, first coming into service as a means of evacuating combat patients in Korea and Vietnam, and now invaluable during natural disasters, such as the Johnstown Flood, when medical supplies required refrigeration and patients needed to be airlifted to hospitals.

Today's ambulances come equipped with some amazing new technology, from defibrillators and monitors that can perform a complete 12-lead ECG, power stretchers, laptop computers, etc.

1305 N MAIN ST.
MARION, SC 29571
7021 HWY 908