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The History of Hennepin EMS

Our History

Hennepin EMS has a long, rich history, dating back to horse-drawn cart transportation in 1894. From horses to helicopters, and medical transportation to mobile integrated healthcare, we celebrate over a century of service.

Growth and Need

The City Hospital of Minneapolis was established in 1887. Minneapolis, at the time, had a population of around 120,000 people, and growing. The census figures from 1880 were 46,687, with a jump in 1890 to 164,738 residents. This tremendous growth made necessary an organized ambulance service.

A report from the City Superintendent in 1891 detailed the existing condition of pre-hospital care, and eventually resulted in the first ambulance being built for the hospital in early summer of 1894. The ambulance was kept at a livery stable until funds could be secured to furnish the necessary horses for running it. The ambulance was moved to a stable on hospital grounds a year later.

In 1912, the hospital received its first Electronic Winton automotive ambulance. The vehicle had a max speed of 20mph and had a pedal operated gong to clear traffic. The horse-drawn ambulances were retired.

From 1925-1930, the ambulance service averaged approximately 17 calls per day.

First Paramedic Class

Little changed in the ambulance service from 1930 to 1969, except run volume. In 1950, the ambulance made 7,785 trips… 5,587 of those with a doctor on board. Run volume was highest between 4pm and midnight.

On January 1, 1964, the hospital and ambulance operations were turned over to Hennepin County. Run volume in 1962 was 14,308 calls, which rose to nearly 22,000 calls by 1965. The year 1965 was also the first year that the ambulance drivers received any sort of medical training. Physicians continued to ride on the ambulance until the late 1960s. The first paramedic class at County was in 1973, and it ran for 6-8 weeks, consisting of an 81-hour EMT class, with cardiac and IV skills. Remember, the standard for emergency medical street work at this time was the American Red Cross’ “Green Book” First Aid certification, as there was no standard for paramedic or other advanced level care.

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