LOS ANGELES, CA – It has been 50 years, since the first Los Angeles County Paramedic Unit was created in 1969 at what was then known as Harbor General hospital.

  • First LA Paramedic Unit created in 1969
  • First paramedic unit says technology has come a long way
  • Program created to keep patients alive on way to the hospital

Since then, those pioneers have paved the way for future paramedics and the public today. Daniel Ferrari pursued a career as a firefighter paramedic with the Los Angeles Fire Department nearly 20 years ago.

“My grandfather, my uncle were all involved in the military and then went on to being physicians whether in the emergency room, or otherwise, and I was going down that path but the pathway to being a paramedic looked so promising,” said Ferrari.

It is a career Ferrari said he is grateful for. Especially, after meeting some of the pioneers in the industry, like Bill Ridgeway and Gary Davis. They were part of the first L.A. County paramedics unit in 1969 and from what they see in the back of Ferrari’s paramedic vehicle, technology has come a long way.

“If it was damp outside or it just rained or they just had their sprinklers come on grass and we go to defibrillate somebody we would get defibrillated at the same time,” Davis said.

The television show “Emergency” was based on what the L.A. County’s paramedic unit came across in the field. Dr. Michael Criley created the paramedic program over 50 years ago in an effort to keep patients alive on their way to the hospital. The model has since paved the way for paramedics like Ferrari.

“The first paramedic textbook I ever touched was a paramedic preparation manual given to me by the paramedic institute that bears his name, and I read that entire paramedic prep textbook and I was tested on it as part of my entry exam to getting into paramedic school,” Ferrari said.

Dr. Criley has also created textbooks about cardiology that paramedic students study before getting a chance to save lives out in the field.

“By the time they get to the hospital, because they have been defibrillated in the field, they’re all ready to go home essentially. Just put a few bandages on them, send them out. But these guys pick them off the street and bring them in alive,” Dr. Criley said.

According to Ferrari, without Dr. Criley, and the first Los Angeles County Paramedics, he wouldn’t be able to save the lives he does today. For that, he will forever be grateful to continue his career and bring back one heart beat at a time.