The Pioneers of Paramedicine Story
The Inaugural Pioneers of Paramedicine Life Time Achievement Award honorees: Eugene Nagel, MD, medical director for the City of Miami Fire Dept from 1964-1974, Leonard Cobb, MD, who established the first paramedic-staffed mobile intensive care units (Medic One) in Seattle in the late '60s, J. Michael Criley, MD, who founded the Los Angeles County Paramedic Program in 1969 and the Los Angeles County Paramedic Training Institute at Harbor General Hospital in Los Angeles, and Walter Graf, MD, founder of the Daniel Freeman paramedic training program in Los Angeles and developer of one of the first MICU services in the U.S.
Randolph Mantooth, who starred as paramedic Johnny Gage on the hit TV series Emergency!, and an active member of the board of the County of Los Angeles Fire Museum, stated at the awards event that that the Emergency! series catapulted paramedicine into every living room in the U.S. and into the thought process of government leaders who soon demanded that a similar level of ALS system be implemented in their community. But Mantooth, ever aware of the show’s history and humble beginnings, was also quick to point out the TV show was mirrored on the efforts of several EMS systems being developed and expanding in scope at the beginning of 1970, and said the true credit belonged to the four physicians honored with the inaugural Pioneers of Paramedicine Life Time Achievement Awards.
Mr. Mantooth stated that the passing of EMS visionaries like Peter Safer, MD and James O. Page made him and fellow County of Los Angeles Fire Museum board member at that time, Nancy McFarland, realize that EMS was passing up the opportunity to record and preserve its history by not capturing the work, words and wisdom of the early pioneers of EMS. So the County of Los Angeles Fire Museum decided to establish a project that would record the historical contributions of key EMS leaders in an effort to preserve their stories for future generations of EMS providers to view and learn from.