An early emergency medical service in the Delaware Fire Department began around 1940 and was very minimal. The training consisted of a 10-hour Red Cross first aid course and the only equipment was a portable E. & I. resuscitator carried on the ladder truck and used primarily for the benefit of the fire fighters and any potential victims at the fire scene. On occasions the public would call for help for difficulty breathing, respiratory problems and drownings. A local funeral home would stop by the station and pick up one man and the resuscitator and go to the scene, or the trip would be made in a police cruiser, to give assistance. A second resuscitator was donated to the department in 1951. Also, a portable iron lung had been donated to the department during the mid-1940’s by the local Moose Club. This was at the time that Infantile Paralysis was at its peak.
The service did not change much until 1960 when $1400 was donated to the department to begin a more serious approach to E.M.S. A used 1956 station wagon was purchased, repainted, equipped with lights and siren, a cot, splints, oxygen and minor equipment. The department went through a 30-hour emergency victim care course offered by the State of Ohio. All department members completed the course and were called emergency medical technicians (E.M. T .S.). This course was repeated every three years and eventually became a 60-hour course by 1965. In that first year, a total of 108 runs were made. Operation in the vehicle was cramped for space and because there was no garage space available, was parked outside the Fire Department.
First ambulance for emergency transport. A converted 1956 Ford station wagon purchased and outfitted in 1960 with donated money.
In 1965 a Chevrolet panel truck was purchased. The men built cabinets in it, added additional equipment and, for the first time, had adequate space to work. Still it remained parked outside. In 1969 the first van type vehicle made by the Horton Co. was purchased. It had piped in oxygen, room for two patients and stand-up room to work. The training time had risen to 90 hours by this time and the number of runs totaled around 800, but the vehicle was still parked outside and uncomfortable in the winter.
Second emergency squad was a new 1965 panel truck purchased and outfitted by department members. Driver, Richard Ward, kneeling, John Reese and David Chaney; standing, Chief Wilbur Bills, Captain William Shaw, Donald Morris.
By 1972 the Funeral Directors had given the County and City officials notice of their intentions not to continue their response to any emergency situations.
Federal funds had become available to set up services and provide funding for emergency vehicles. The County set up a system in the Sheriff’s Office to provide ambulance cruisers for the County and applied for funding. They also implemented a 1/2% sales tax to support it. The funding application was approved and included a new 1972 van-type vehicle for the Fire Department. The county gave the city $15.00 for each run from the 1/2% tax. This was considered a reimbursement to city residents who were paying the tax. This amount was adjusted up and down several times over the years.
In 1975 Chief Bills applied for federal funds to establish a Paramedic Program with a more advanced level of trained personnel who could give IV’s, monitor and defibrillate the heart. This was turned down but the City agreed to one-half the amount needed provided the other half came from the community. A drive was started which included a radio-thon, public and private request for donations and included some members of the medical community .The response was great and soon exceeded the $17,500 needed. The City provided $17,500 and with about $38,000 in hand, the paramedic vehicle was ordered. The first training consisted of 200 hours at the Columbus Fire Department medic program. The first six men who completed the course were Steve Robinson, Donald Morris, Larry Milligan, Donald Snyder, Mike Olney and David Fish. With the training complete and the delivery of the medic unit, the service began. The medical community provided an advisory committee to monitor all runs and activity. Dr. Judy Held acted as the medical advisor and signed the drug license. The implementation of this service was undoubtedly the greatest example of total community involvement and support ever displayed. The service continues to the present time having improved many times over while providing emergency medical service to hundreds of people.
More than 30 fire fighters have been trained as paramedics with 1,000 hours of training, with at least 4 trained medics on each crew. All others are E.M. T. ‘ s with 110 hours of training. Another van-type vehicle was purchased in 1978 and 1987. The Medic unit has had a new chassis and at this writing, a new vehicle is on order.
For more than fifty years, some type of emergency medical service has been offered by the Delaware Fire Department. For more than 30 years, a basic E.M.T. program, and for more than 15 years, a paramedic program has been provided for the citizens of Delaware. An amazing accomplishment in light of the fact that in the beginning there were only seven fire fighters -not only providing fire protection but emergency protection as well.
Third emergency squad was purchased in 1969 from the Horton Co. for $6,500. This was the first fully contained squad purchased with adequate headroom, working space, piped in oxygen and full equipment. Horton was a new company and this was the second unit they had assembled.
Fourth emergency squad was a 1972 Dodge van-type vehicle purchased by the county for city use. (No photo Available.)
Fifth emergency squad unit was the first Medic unit used by more highly trained personnel to treat victims with I.V.’s, E.K.G.’s, and more sophisticated equipment. It was a large modular-type vehicle which could be retained by simply replacing the chassis. It was delivered in Feb. 1976. From left to right Chief Wilbur Bills, Captain Richard Ward, Lieutenant Donald Morris, David Fish, Fred Moyer, Max Flahive and Ron Nist.
In addition to Emergency Medical Service the department has been blessed in that interested citizens donated money to purchase various tools for the extrication of victims trapped in accident situations.
The early tools consisted primarily of axes and pry bars. Later years brought on more sophisticated equipment. The early hydraulic jacks were replaced by porto-powers which consisted of various adaptors and greater tonnage capability .An acetylene torch was donated by the Eagles Lodge in 1948 but was replaced by air chisels which were capable of cutting, ripping and tearing away metal at the scene of an accident. Gasoline powered saws with various blades for metal, wood and other materials were added. When the Jaws-of-Life tool came on the scene in the early 1970’s, the local C.B. club took upon themselves the task of raising nearly $6,000 to purchase one for the department. It consists of a gasoline-powered compressor, which operates various expanding adaptors and cutters, which operate at high pressures to open jammed doors and/or removing tops of cars making safe access to victims.
When the 1983 Pierce pumper was purchased much of this equipment was placed on it to respond to accident scenes adding the extrication capabilities to that of fire protection. This was of particular importance when flammable liquids might need fire protection as well.