Pittsburgh’s Freedom House Ambulance Service: The Origins of Emergency Medical Services and the Politics of Race and Health

This manuscript explores the history of the Freedom House Enterprises Ambulance Service, a social and medical experiment that trained “unemployable” black citizens during the late 1960s and early 1970s to provide then state of the art prehospital care. Through archives, newspapers, personal correspondence, university memoranda, and the medical literature, this paper explores the comparable, yet different roles of the program’s two leaders, Drs. Peter Safar and Nancy Caroline. Despite its success in demonstrating national standards for paramedic training and equipment, the program ended abruptly in 1975. And though Pittsburgh’s city administration cited economic constraints for its fledgling support of Freedom House, black and majority newspapers and citizens alike understood the city’s diminishing support of the program in racial terms. The paper discusses Safar and Caroline’s well-intentioned efforts in developing this novel program, while confronting the racial, social, and structural constraints on the program and the limits of racial liberalism.

When The Hospital Fires the Bullet….

The 2/13/16 New York Times article “When the Hospital Fires the Bullet” tells the truly incredible story of a Houston college student who had never been in trouble and was admitted to a local inpatient psychiatric facility for symptoms of the manic phase of his bipolar disorder. In an effort to subdue this student’s classically […]