Good Old Days of EMS


Ambulance service was a raucous endeavor in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was a time when funeral homes — which for years had provided emergency services — gave the job to privately owned ambulance companies.

As you can imagine, the competition was fierce. At the time it was even humorous, as movies such as the 1976 “Mother, Jugs and Speed” spoofed these ambulance wars.

In St. Joseph, it was humorous and sometimes pretty dangerous. Here, rival ambulance companies often got involved in fist fights, gunplay and pulling false alarms on each other. Getting them at your home for an emergency could sometimes be a crapshoot, too. Most drove ill-equipped 1960 Buick Electra model ambulances. And the drivers had little more than a Red Cross citizen’s emergency training.

“One ambulance service would call the other one and say, ‘We need an ambulance up here at Krug Park place,’ or some other remote place, they’d chase up there and the other service would be sitting do

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