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Indianapolis EMS to make 125 years of service

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Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is celebrating a milestone. In 1887 and 1888, the first City Hospital ambulance began transporting sick and injured patients. Today, this ambulance service is Indianapolis EMS, and it has a fleet of 44 ambulances and 39 support vehicles on the streets providing care to those most in need.

“Our history is traced back to those first horse-and-buggy ambulances from City Hospital in the late 1880s,” said Dr. Charles Miramonti, chief of Indianapolis EMS. “We are proud of that history and look forward to the future of EMS in this city.”

Indianapolis EMS will celebrate its 125th anniversary during National EMS Week, at the inaugural McCormick & Medley Public Safety Awareness Day on  May 22, at Indianapolis City Market. The event is in memory of Private Tim McCormick and Specialist Cody Medley, two service members who were killed in the line of duty in February.

EMS in Marion County has come a long way from that one horse-and-buggy ambulance. As one of the oldest and largest hospital-based EMS providers in the nation (Wishard-Eskenazi Health serves as the sponsoring health system), Indianapolis EMS shares its history with other providers in Indianapolis. This list includes the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD), the former Wishard Ambulance Service, township and municipal EMS services and private ambulances. 

Besides being one of the first to have an ambulance treating patients, in 1944 Indianapolis EMS also became the first EMS provider in the country to use two-way radio communication to coordinate ambulance dispatch. This pioneering communication tool made it possible for the hospital’s ambulances to alert the receiving ward about the patient’s illness or injury en route, improving patient care. 

Some 60 years later, Indianapolis EMS also became the first provider to be equipped with new electronic medical record technology that allows paramedics and emergency medical technicians the ability to obtain vital patient health history by accessing their hospital medical records. This technology, the first of its kind in the world, was developed by researchers from the Regenstrief Institute in collaboration with the Indiana University School of Medicine, Wishard-Eskenazi Health and Indianapolis EMS.

“EMS and patient care is constantly changing. It is vital that we stay on top of these changes and, in many cases, like we have for the past 125 years, pioneer these changes,” said Dr. Miramonti. 

Indianapolis EMS consists of a staff of over 300 individuals, including 82 EMTs and 167 paramedics, and operates ambulances throughout Marion County. Of those ambulances, 32 are run on the day shift, and 24 are run on the night shift.

Indianapolis EMS was formed in 2010 as a partnership between the City of Indianapolis, IU School of Medicine and Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, with Wishard as the supervising health system. Indianapolis EMS operates as a division of the Department of Public Safety and was formed via unification of Wishard and Indianapolis Fire Department EMS services. The service benefits from medical leadership in quality, education, training and research from the IU School of Medicine.

To learn more about Indianapolis EMS, visit Indianapolisems.org.

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