The Need for an Organised Ambulance Service in 1904.
I came across this article by chance while trying to track down same old papers on skin cancer. It was published in the Lancet in 1904. A few days ago I heard a story about a colleague’s problem in trying to order an ambulance for somebody having a MI.
It is remarkable how institutions can fail, and competence be something that now only exists in the past. This is not a difficult issue to solve. We no longer have a functioning health service. We have stepped back in time. But, hey, it only affects other people.
At an inquest held at Lambeth on nov. 21st Mr.Troutbeck inquired into the death of a girl, named Alice Wood,aged 17 years, of Camborne-road, Southfields, who died in a laundry van as she was being removed to st. Thomas’s hospital to undergo an operation for perforated gastric ulcer.
On Nov. 16th she complained of severe pain in the chest and about midnight Dr. E. A. Miller of Upper Richmond-road was called. He found the girl collapsed and, having diagnosed the condition, decided that an operation was her only chance. No cab could be obtained but at about 2A.M.on Nov.17th a laundry van was procured and in this she was driven to the hospital where on arrival she was found to be dead. Dr. L. Freyberger, who made the post-mortem examination, said that death was due to heart failure following acute peritonitis caused by the rupture of an internal ulcer and that it was accelerated by the jolting of the van. The coroner’s officer said that a horsed ambulance was kept at the Wandsworth Infirmary but that a relieving officer’s order was necessary for its use. The jury returned a verdict of “Death from natural causes,” and added a rider expressing the opinion that there was urgent need for an improvement in the system of providing horsed ambulances for the various metropolitan districts. With this we quite agree and we earnestly hope that the London County Council, which recently received a deputation from the Metropolitan Street Ambulance Association, will see its way to make proper provision.