Article ID: CBB606987205

Pittsburgh’s Freedom House Ambulance Service: The Origins of Emergency Medical Services and the Politics of Race and Health (2019)


This manuscript explores the history of the Freedom House Enterprises Ambulance Service, a social and medical experiment that trained “unemployable” black citizens during the late 1960s and early 1970s to provide then state of the art prehospital care. Through archives, newspapers, personal correspondence, university memoranda, and the medical literature, this paper explores the comparable, yet different roles of the program’s two leaders, Drs. Peter Safar and Nancy Caroline. Despite its success in demonstrating national standards for paramedic training and equipment, the program ended abruptly in 1975. And though Pittsburgh’s city administration cited economic constraints for its fledgling support of Freedom House, black and majority newspapers and citizens alike understood the city’s diminishing support of the program in racial terms. The paper discusses Safar and Caroline’s well-intentioned efforts in developing this novel program, while confronting the racial, social, and structural constraints on the program and the limits of racial liberalism.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Kathryn Olivarius; (2022)
Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom (/isis/citation/CBB181588231/) unapi

Article M. X. Mitchell; (2021)
The Cosmology of Evidence: Suffering, Science, and Biological Witness After Three Mile Island (/isis/citation/CBB799186607/) unapi

Article Seng, Loh Kah; (2008)
“Our lives are bad but our luck is good”: A Social History of Leprosy in Singapore (/isis/citation/CBB000930667/) unapi

Thesis Inga Kim Diederich; (2021)
Blood of the Nation: Medical Eugenics, Bio-Nationalism, and Identity Formation in Cold War South Korea (/isis/citation/CBB132540302/) unapi

Book Allen Dieterich-Ward; (2015)
Beyond Rust: Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Fate of Industrial America (/isis/citation/CBB863714835/) unapi

Article Kevin McQueeney; (2018)
Flint Goodridge Hospital and Black Health Care in Twentieth-Century New Orleans (/isis/citation/CBB564223569/) unapi

Thesis Aquino, Hilary Crisp; (2004)
“In Black, White, and Brown”: The Color Line in Medicine and Public Health, New York City, 1945--1965 (/isis/citation/CBB001561754/) unapi

Book Inrig, Stephen; (2011)
North Carolina and the Problem of AIDS: Advocacy, Politics, and Race in the South (/isis/citation/CBB001550478/) unapi

Book McCulloch, Jock; (2002)
Asbestos Blues: Labour, Capital, Physicians and the State in South Africa (/isis/citation/CBB000771197/) unapi

Chapter Dilger, Hansjörg; (2012)
The (Ir)Relevance of Local Knowledge: Circuits of Medicine and Biopower in the Neoliberal Era (/isis/citation/CBB001422695/) unapi

Book Mary Jane Logan McCallum; Adele Perry; (2018)
Structures of Indifference: An Indigenous Life and Death in a Canadian City (/isis/citation/CBB373446176/) unapi

Book Charles L. Briggs; Clara Mantini-Briggs; (2002)
Stories in the Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling during a Medical Nightmare (/isis/citation/CBB505210534/) unapi

Book Barr, Donald A.; (2008)
Health Disparities in the United States: Social Class, Race, Ethnicity, and Health (/isis/citation/CBB000831474/) unapi

Thesis Pacino, Nicole Lohman; (2013)
Prescription for a Nation: Public Health in Post-Revolutionary Bolivia, 1952--1964 (/isis/citation/CBB001567448/) unapi

Thesis McLeod, Kari Suzanne; (2007)
Health Matters: Public Understandings of Health in 1950s America (/isis/citation/CBB001561516/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Rappaport, Erika
Zulawski, Ann
Miescher, Stephan
McCulloch, Jock
Barr, Donald A.
Seng, Loh Kah
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Social History of Medicine
The Journal of African American History
Journal of Black Studies
Journal of the History of Biology
Indiana University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
University of North Carolina Press
Arizona State University
Yale University
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Public health
Medicine and race
Medicine and society
Medicine and government
AIDS (disease)
Public understanding of medicine
J. Alfred Cannon
Louis Jolyon West
United States
Pennsylvania (U.S.)
South Africa
Tanzania (Tanganyika, Zanzibar)
20th century, late
21st century
19th century
20th century
University of California

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment