Columns

EMS Classics is a feature column I write for Canadian Paramedicine.

It is my attempt at giving the younger generation who work in EMS today, a snapshot into the history of ambulance service.

If you are interested in purchasing the images or the text copyright to any of the columns please email me at EMSClassics@shaw.ca

All proceeds are donated to the Paramedic Association of Canada Benevolent Society.

Ray's Ambulance crest used from 1957 to 1966

Photo Peter Adsten EMSClassics.com Column

Ray's Ambulance crest 1967 to 1973

Photo Peter Adsten EMSClassics.com Column
Buy This Column and Images Now ($150)

Column 14 April/May 2008

Uniform Crests

We used to call them a Uniform Crest, but they are more commonly known now as Shoulder Patches. Whatever the name, the identification of ambulance personnel has always been important. Shown is a photo of the crest Ray Siurko used when he started his ambulance service in Saskatoon in 1957. In addition to the ambulance service name are four important words and symbols. The central feature on the crest is a large red cross, which at the time was the universal emblem of first aid. The crest also has yellow "lightning" symbols to convey the message that Ray's ambulances were equipped with 2-way radio communication, a fairly new and very important feature. The other two messages on the crest, Town + Country and Day + Night, seem odd by today's standards. In 1957 Ray was attempting to demonstrate that progressive new ambulance services were willing to provide service both day and night, in town as well as in the country.

In an earlier era, ambulance service had often been provided by funeral homes or hospitals. Some of these organizations only provided service during the daytime when their staff was available. This was also in the era of poor country roads and primitive vehicles, so some ambulance services were reluctant to venture out into the rural areas. As a result, the public was accustomed to transporting patients themselves which was what Ray's and other progressive ambulance services were trying to change.

When I began working at Ray's Ambulance in 1967 we were already using a redesigned crest on our uniform. The large red cross had been replaced by the silhouette of a smaller cross. The Town + Country and the Day + Night messages were gone. The "lightning" symbols were still present, perhaps more as a decorative detail for the crest because by then 2-way radio communication was already common in city ambulances. The most important message on the 1967 crest was that Ray's Ambulance Service was a growing company, now serving both the city of Saskatoon as well as Prince Albert.

Do you have any old ambulance crests? If you scan them and email the images to me I will include them in my collection.

Copyright 2008 Peter Adsten