Madison Fire Celebrates 50 Years of Paramedic Service
MFD is proud to have come upon a milestone recently: 50 years of paramedic level service in the City of Madison.
When the paramedic program began in 1972, there were only two other cities in the country with paramedics: Jacksonville, FL, and Seattle, WA. Initially, the Madison Fire Department’s program involved a federally-funded eight-week training curriculum that was run through the University of Wisconsin Hospital. The first class of paramedics, comprised of five people, was dispatched out of UW Hospital using the department’s first paramedic ambulance, Rescue 62, which was essentially a van.
Today, a new paramedic spends over nine months in training that includes written exams, practical exams, pediatric advanced life support, and advanced cardiac life support. The MFD has nine ambulances situated in fire stations across the city. There are 191 people on the department who hold or have held a paramedic license, and there’s a minimum of 18 paramedics working every minute of the year.
There have been many contributors to the paramedic program over the years, and MFD was able to honor two key members at a special event on Thursday, May 18. MFD recognized Dr. Marvin Birnbaum, the department’s second and longest-serving Medical Director, and Nancy Robinson, RN, MFD’s longest-serving paramedic trainer.
From its humble beginnings to today, the City of Madison can be proud of its history as a pioneer in the field of EMS, as the first paramedic-level provider in the state of Wisconsin and one of the oldest paramedic programs in the country!
- MFD’s first Medical Director, from 1971-1976, was Dr. Claude Taylor.
- The first class of paramedics, who graduated in 1972, were John Kammer, Bernard Schmelzer, John Trinkle, Gary Kreft, and Charles Dirienzo.
- The first woman to become a paramedic at MFD was Jan Jefferson, licensed in 1981.
- The total number of paramedics MFD has had since its inception is 319.
This blog was authored by Apparatus Engineer Lori Kneebone-Karst.