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.

Malcolm Gladwell On American Health Care: An Interview

Malcolm Gladwell, the social commentator who added to our lexicon “tipping point,” “outlier” and “blink” made some insightful observations about American healthcare, the Affordable Care Act and American Physicians in a recent interview with Forbes Medical Contributor Robert Pearl, MD…. Malcolm Gladwell speaking at a 2008 conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)   Robert Pearl, M.D., ContributorI cover […]