Ambulances: From Horses to Strobe Lights, Technology’s Advancements
January 19, 2023
There’s a Keystone in every great invention.
Ambulances and the Technology Behind Them
2023 has just begun, winter weather is in full swing, and now starts the preparation for one of the biggest events of the year: Super Bowl LVII. And while the focus will be on who will come out on top, many will also be keeping eyes on the amount of medical assistance and treatment teams surrounding the players.
Many of us will never forget the night football took a pause in Cincinnati, while Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin was given CPR and rushed to the hospital after being hit in the chest and suffering commotio cordis. Along with the knowledge and ability of the athletic trainers and physicians, Damar Hamlin’s life was saved with the assistance of an automated external defibrillator that revived Hamlin’s heart, and an on-field ambulance equipped with the technology needed to communicate with the hospital ahead of Hamlin’s arrival. Let’s dive deeper into ambulances and the technology behind them.
History of Ambulances
The earliest versions of ambulances appeared on French battlefields around 1792. Dominique-Jean Larrey, a French inventor and surgeon, was growing increasingly irritated with battle regulations that forced first aid and medical care to stay behind soldiers and the action. Named the “ambulance volante”, or “flying ambulance”, Larrey presented his idea to the French military as a way to follow behind their army into battle and help any wounded soldiers right where they lay.
Larrey’s “flying ambulance” was a horse drawn carriage capable of carrying two patients within a back compartment, fitted with mattresses and windows. Storage containers helped carry a variety of medicines and equipment, and ramps were used as operating tables in emergency circumstances. A soldier’s ability to receive treatment and help no longer relied on how far they were from the medical tents, and the number of mortal wounds in the battlefield significantly decreased.
Today’s Ambulances and Technology
Ambulances today have obviously come a long way since Larrey’s horse drawn carriages, mimicking every technological advancement that pushed motor vehicles from simple metal boxes on four wheels to works of art with power steering, lights, and built-in navigation systems.
Complementing well-versed and fast-acting medical and training staffs, like the ones in Cincinnati, technologically advanced ambulances can make all the difference when it comes to saving lives outside of a hospital. Every single detail of an ambulance is made with safety and survival in mind, from the flashing LED lights and sirens warning outside surroundings to the computer and electronic medical devices inside.
Many ambulances are equipped with Bluetooth technology and 5G connectivity to efficiently contact hospitals, whether it be via phone or video calls, all at high speed. Mobile Data Terminals are also used to transmit patient records, vital information, and even procedures and directions between ambulance crews and hospitals. Devices such as monitors, defibrillators, ventilators require power from the ambulance or rely on charged battery packs to assist in treating patients on the go and in the required timely fashion.
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