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Mike McDonald
11-28-2010, 12:52 PM
I can't help but notice in all the beautiful old pictures provided by Steve Loftin, Tony Karsnia and many-many others the lack of any antennas on a good portion of the "in-service" ambulances shown especially the Canadian ones. Of the ones that do, a majority seem to have low-band systems followed by a few with VHF Antennas. Our small town where I grew up (Fallbrook-San Diego County, CA., and where our 1954 Henney-Packard Senior Ambulance was purchased brand new) was lucky enough to have a County-Wide (Shared) VHF Repeater System as early as the mid 50's that was considered "state of the art" back then. In the pre-911 days there if you were reporting a fire or needed an ambulance you would call the single volunteer station in town on a regular phone. If no one was there, the town siren would automatically activate after a few rings and keep cycling until a volunteer arrived at the station and picked the phone up that usually wasn't too long as they mostly worked at nearby businesses all over town including the local (Berry-Bell) Mortuary.

I am curious if any of you have stories of communications in the "good old days" and in paticuliar how the Funeral Homes that had Ambulances, got their calls, communicated with Local Fire Deparments, PD's, Highway Patrols, Hospitals etc., often without any radios and-or even the earliest versions of Low-Band Simplex and VHF / IMTS Phones, etc. of the early 60-70's. MM

Dan Herrick
11-28-2010, 02:24 PM
When I first started riding with the local volunteer ambulance service we were lucky enough to have radios. They were "low band" as that was what had the best reception in our area. To many hills for "high band" to work as well, no repeaters. Our squad was also lucky enough to have a local phone company whose operators did our dispatching. All one had to do was dial "0" for any emergency be it ambulance, fire, or police. The problem was that the operators did not have any radios. They would call the crew by phone for calls. So when on a call if we had a problem and we were in and area that would reach the fire mutual aid dispatcher by radio we would call them on the radio. On one call I remember we were having problems finding the call. We could not reach the fire dispatcher so we stopped at the first house we could find and nocked on the door to see if we could use their phone to call the operators for more information. When the person answered the door the only thing he had on was a t-shirt wondering what the ambulance was doing in his drive with all the lights on. We made our phone call and headed off always feeling sorry for the poor guy and what we had interrupted!:angel:

Steve Lichtman
11-28-2010, 02:44 PM
Very good topic, I'll be interested to hear some others' answers.

1) Here's a good example of how communications were handled without radios, which I read about a few years ago.

In parts of Maryland that were not served by fire department or funeral home ambulances, the State Police provided ambulance service. (I have a photo of an MSP '47 Flxible Buick, and a mid-50's step-van). The ambulances were operated out of a garage at the state police barrack in a particular county. If you needed an ambulance, you called the state police barrack and the ambulance was sent on the run by the desk officer (by the way, MSP still dispatches their trooper cars from the individual barrack, not from a dispatch center).

In the days before radios, if the desk officer needed to reach the ambulance while it was out on a run, he would telephone a gas station along the road on the route of travel the ambulance would be taking. The gas station attendant would have a flag and hang it on a pole to signal the ambulance to stop. The ambulance would stop and the driver would telephone back to the barrack for instructions. Basically, semaphore flags!

2) As you've seen in photos, my Ambulet from Nashwauk, MN had it's phone number on the side, "Phone 8". That was the number for the ambulance service's owner, for the police (the owner was the police officer), or for a tow truck (he also owned the tow service). If he was out and his wife answered, I don't think there was any way to get ahold of the ambulance as it didn't have a radio.

3) Interesting phone numbers, the volunteer ambulance service I ran with in PA in the early 1980's was operated by the local VFW post. The phone number for the ambulance was 745-VETS. When the 911 system was put in place, the VETS line was transferred to the 911 center and was still usable, so if someone called it, they got the 911 dispatcher. We crew members had receive-only pagers, we could get a voice message, and if we were responding, we had to call 911 and tell them we were on the way to the station.

Mike McDonald
11-28-2010, 04:11 PM
Very good topic, I'll be interested to hear some others' answers.

1) Here's a good example of how communications were handled without radios, which I read about a few years ago.

In parts of Maryland that were not served by fire department or funeral home ambulances, the State Police provided ambulance service. (I have a photo of an MSP '47 Flxible Buick, and a mid-50's step-van). The ambulances were operated out of a garage at the state police barrack in a particular county. If you needed an ambulance, you called the state police barrack and the ambulance was sent on the run by the desk officer (by the way, MSP still dispatches their trooper cars from the individual barrack, not from a dispatch center).

In the days before radios, if the desk officer needed to reach the ambulance while it was out on a run, he would telephone a gas station along the road on the route of travel the ambulance would be taking. The gas station attendant would have a flag and hang it on a pole to signal the ambulance to stop. The ambulance would stop and the driver would telephone back to the barrack for instructions. Basically, semaphore flags!

2) As you've seen in photos, my Ambulet from Nashwauk, MN had it's phone number on the side, "Phone 8". That was the number for the ambulance service's owner, for the police (the owner was the police officer), or for a tow truck (he also owned the tow service). If he was out and his wife answered, I don't think there was any way to get ahold of the ambulance as it didn't have a radio.

3) Interesting phone numbers, the volunteer ambulance service I ran with in PA in the early 1980's was operated by the local VFW post. The phone number for the ambulance was 745-VETS. When the 911 system was put in place, the VETS line was transferred to the 911 center and was still usable, so if someone called it, they got the 911 dispatcher. We crew members had receive-only pagers, we could get a voice message, and if we were responding, we had to call 911 and tell them we were on the way to the station.

Steve: In reading the history of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) they also used the "flag system" in the 30's as you described. Apparently later in the 40's when cars had AM (Music) Radios a paticuliar frequency was assigned to the CHP that they could (one-way) dispatch to their cars in good areas, but the Officers could not answer back.... having to stop at one of the few stores or gas stations along the way that had a phone. The downside to that system was that regular citizens (and bank robbers) could "tune in" to that frequency and hear the broadcasts too. Still in 2010.... the CHP here uses their Old FM Low-Band System (with micro-wave repeaters located all over the state) versus 800mg Systems used by most other agencies. The remote units are located in the trunks of their CVPI's and Chargers with heavy steel guards fabricated around them (to protect the radios) during a rear-end collisions. MM

Tony Karsnia
11-28-2010, 05:01 PM
When I was a kid, we lived for 7 years in Sauk Centre, MN, where my dad was the funeral director and worked for the local ambulance service, which was owned by Vern Meyer and his wife, Pat. When an ambulance was needed, the caller had to know the telephone number for the ambulance: 352-2125. The call would ring into Vern & Pat's home. Assuming it was during daytime hours, Pat would take the information, call Vern, who owned a small engine repair shop in downtown Sauk Centre, and then set about going down the list of personnel, calling each one until a second person was found to go on the call. If it was during nighttime hours, this same scenario would play out, with the exception being that Vern would respond from home.

The ambulance was kept in a two-stall garage downtown, so whomever was going on the call had to drive there to get it. As an aside, this was an un-heated garage, so in the wintertime, a small space heater was kept plugged into the garage outlet and kept inside the back of the ambulance to keep it warm. Looking back, it is a wonder the place never burned down...

Inside the ambulance was a Motorola 2-way radio, mounted to the right of the linen cabinet on the bulkhead in the rear compartment. The microphone was usually not on the hook, but through the open partition window and stretched down to lay on the front seat so the radio could be used when both crew members were in the front (responding to and on the way back from calls.) Communication was through the local police department and the hospitals (local or distant.)

I recall it being 1979 or 80 when a new paging system was installed at the police station. There still was no 911 service, but at least now the calls came in to the police dispatcher, who then paged out the two on-call ambulance crew members. I vividly remember my dad coming home with a brand new Motorola pager and all of us thinking what a big deal this was. At that time, there were four primary crew members:
My dad and Bruce Eastburg (who owned the local Standard station) covered from 6 AM to 6 PM. Vern Meyer and Wayne Thorson (who owned a local motel) covered from 6 PM to 6 AM. Kenny Ritter and Darlene Dols also helped with coverage as needed. Around this same time, the crew went through EMT tranining and got nice dark blue jackets that had their name embroidered on the front, the EMT patch on the shoulder, and "Sauk Centre Ambulance" on the back. I think my dad still has his ambulance jacket to this day...

The rig pictured here, a 1974 Miller-Meteor Cadillac Lifeliner, is the car that was in service during much of the above-described time. While I was not even close to being 10 years old then, I had many occasions to ride along in this rig, from event standbys to actual routine patient trasnfers out of town. Even though I never "worked" in a Cadillac ambulance, it was really something to have been allowed to ride in one on real calls.

It was a much simpler time then, even from the standpoint that people didn't call an ambulance for every little thing, like they tend to do nowadays. When the ambulance was called out, people tended to notice because (a) it was generally something serious, and (b) in a small town like ours, you usually knew the patient. I remember my dad making a lot of transfers, which were usually to Alexandria, St. Cloud, Willmar, Minneapolis, or occasionally, Rochester. With another funeral director on staff (my dad's boss, who ran the funeral home in Melrose, 8 miles away) leaving town for such transfers was not usually a problem.

(Karsnia collection)

Chris M. Kelley
11-28-2010, 05:33 PM
While I'm not old, I run w/ a lot of people who don't like to let go of the past. That's not a bad thing, usually, but it gave me the chance to see how things worked before my time. Just with in the past year, we discontinued a seven digit emergency line which had been in place since 1968. We've had 9-1-1 service since '86, and this year, the entire county got 9-1-1. Some parts had to call a seven digit number to the dispatch center, which is near Williamsport, Pa. However, our number was a party line. Ten connections, ten phones; rotary dial, constant ring when the number was dialed. I took several ambulance calls on it; and on the 4th of July in maybe '06; an elderly woman reported a brush fire endangering farm machinery on it. The system would ring all the time, the last four digits were 9111; and a deli in town had 9000. Many times I'd answer, convince one of the older company members wives to hang up, as it had become defunct. People would answer it like their regular phone, and tell the caller it wasn't the fire company or ambulance line.

The way it worked, someone would call. One of the six residences, the newspaper office, a funeral home, fire company or a gas station.. would get the call. Take the info down, push a little button attached to the phone which would activate the whistle - if it was a fire. First person at the hall, would pick up the phone, and the call taker would give them the info. Then, they would dispatch it via the Plecton system, which had shoulder straps, making them portable. We still have a number of plectron units, and the original dispatch equipment. Our dispatchers consisted of the wives of firemen, and they were also day time ambulance drivers. Ambulance calls were dispatched by these in home base boxes, which set off the tones, but you couldn't talk. So, again, someone would have to pick up the party line. But I think most of the time, the crew was called directly. The same then, as now, not many people. Quality, not quantity.

Finally, one of the die hard women that dispatch all of our calls in the 1960's, 70's and 80's fell ill. A grandchild moved in, removed the unable to be dialed red telephone and installed an answering machine, never knowing why grandma had a phone like the president might have on his desk. We had been advertising for years, not to call the number in an emergency.

End of the line, we had the phone number canceled. I pitty the person that gets the number, if the phone company ever reissues it.

Sometimes I'll go on a call for an elderly resident; and they'll still have a rotary dial phone in use. The center plate of the dialer will have a sticker; Day or Nite - Fire - Ambulance - XXX-9111. Which reminded us why the elderly used it so often, still, for emergency calls. The firehouse still uses rotary dial phone, and I believe what may be called noise-canceling phones. It's a cylinder style phone, with a round head and a dial; the receiver has a motorola button on it, like a radio handset. and if you want to talk. You'd better have it pressed before you answer, otherwise, you'll only be able to hear. You can let go, and press again, but only if you press it before answering. I suppose that was so the caller couldn't hear the whistle or trucks, b/c there was a radio room in the station, prior to 1975; and usually a dispatcher would stay in that room. Prior to the seven digit line, emergency calls were taken at the boiler room of the local creamery. Why? That's where the steam whistle was located, according to old time firemen, on a clear night, you could hear it 13 miles away.

Chris M. Kelley
11-28-2010, 08:06 PM
http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p79/cmk1883/20101128_6.jpg

Scott A. Anderson
11-28-2010, 10:14 PM
In '73-'75 I worked for Kost Ambulance in Mankato, MN. The owner, Brad Reeves, was a real entreprenur. He owned the ambulance service, a repair garage, a AAA towing service, and an answering service. He also had a cab service prior to the time that I worked there. He had three ambulances and many more tow trucks and vehicles with starting units, so it was pretty clear that the shop and towing service were the main source of revenue.

The ambulance calls came in via a seven digit number. It rang in several locations around the building, in the answering service, in a nearby apartment for the night on-call people, and at the owner's home. In the shop, there as a very loud gong that rang very distinctively for an ambulance call. The person running the answering service picked up the line and took the information. Anyone else could pick up on an extension and listen. At the end of the call, after the calling party hung up, those still on the line listening would quickly coordinate who would go on the run. There was no 911 in those days, so if the call originated with the police, fire, sheriff, state patrol, etc, those respective dispatchers called the ambulance on the same seven digit number.

During the daytime hours, there were typically a few qualified people in the building, so finding a crew was no problem. The ambulance crew would be who ever was close by, so it could be tow truck drivers, shop mechanics, etc. When it was real busy for towing vehicles, the person in the answering service would call on the radio to find out who was closest to the garage and they would quickly return to the garage to take the ambulance call. I can remember coming back rather quickly a few times with a car on the hook to take the call.

At night, there was usually one person on duty to tow, the owner at home, and a couple of us that lived in a nearby apartment. We received free rent in return for taking night calls. This was a pretty cool deal for college students. We went to class during the day. Worked the 3-11 shift towing cars and making ambulance runs, then took calls at night. Usually the night tow person would take the ambulance and swing by the house and pick one of us up at the curb out front. If the night tow guy was busy, one or both of us at the house would hustle down to the garage and pick up the ambulance. Sometimes only one of us would go and would take the ambulance and pickup the owner at his home.

When there were multiple calls at night, it got real interesting as the person working the anwering service had to call around and find someone to go on the call.

There were many times that we went to a traffic accident and picked up the injured and took them to the hospital. Then back to the scene to pick up the dead and deliver to the morgue. Then go park the ambulance and take tow trucks to get the cars. Occasionally, we might have to jump back in the ambulance and take a critical patient that we had already transported to the local hospital to a trauma center in the Twin Cities or Mayo in Rochester. That was well before the days of helicopter transport between hospitals.

The answering service picked up the calls for the various physician groups, the power company, and several other service related businesses in southern Minnesota. They had beeper style pagers and also two-way tone activated walkie-talkies so you could page someone and they could then initiate a two-way conversation with the person in the answering service. These walkie-talkies also had phone patch capability, so you could make a telephone call, as well. The on-call surgery and anestheia staff from the hospitals carried these tone activated walkie talkies. No in-house anestheia, and no physician on premises at night generally. The two hospitals each had a tone activated walkie-talkie at the switch board that were used to notify the hospitals that an ambulance was coming in with a patient. The ER was usually closed at night, and the nursing supervisor for the whole hospital covered the ER when an ambulance was bringing in patients.

The only trouble with that radio system was that once we were beyond 60 miles or so from the base, we had no radio communications of any kind. So on long hauls to the Twin Cities or Rochester, the dispatcher called on the phone and told them we were coming and once we were out of range, we were on our own. So you drove very fast and did the best that you could.

We take all this for granted these days.

Russell Street
11-29-2010, 01:19 PM
When I started in 1963, we had the phones in our office and also had an answering service who would pick up after the third ring if we didn't answer it. There were always two guys there to run "emergency" calls, and usually another couple guys hanging around (the presence of a pool table probably aided that a bit). If an "invalid call" or removal came in, the guys hanging around took that. If nobody was there, you started down the roster until you got a full crew. If nobody was in the office, the answering service would call the roster.

When I had my service in the early 70's we had the phones in our house and an answering service (same deal with the third ring). We also had "beepers" through the answering service and assigned them to the "duty crew". If additional help was needed you called the roster until a crew was filled. Knowing our guys work schedules was a big aid in this, we usually knew who we could get most times in just a couple calls. We had CB radios in the house, coaches, and most of the guys cars. It was crude, but the system worked like a charm.

Robert Shepard
11-29-2010, 01:43 PM
Back in 1971 when I started my ambulance service the 911 system had yet to be introduced. We purchased a Motorola Mocom 70 with a Quick Call and a Motorola Pageboy pager. The radio was set-up on Radio Common Carrier (RCC), which was a simplex radio telephone. The mobile operator would call us and in doing so would activate our pager and Quick Call unit. The later would remotley turn on the ambulance's beacons and make the horn honk. All inbound and outbound calls had to go through the mobile operator. We later upgraded to Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS), which allowed us to direct dial and receive calls without mobile operator assistance. IMTS also gave us duplex communications, so we did not have to key the mike when we transmitted.

Russell Street
11-29-2010, 02:01 PM
A side note about "seven digit" phone numbers. When I was a firefighter in Scottsdale, I was assigned to Sta. 10, the main fire station. At one time (up to 1983) the Alarm Room had been located there. It was the first Dispatch center, way before 9-1-1 came in. We had 4 phone lines that came into the station, 3 consecutive numbers on the "rollover" system, and a seperate line that was formerly the old Scottsdale Fire Department emergency number.

New Years Day 1988, I was passing by one of the phones when Line 4 rang in. I answered it as per procedure "fire department..Station 10..Firefighter Street..how can I help you". Straight up, by the book. The party on the other end stated he was "having a party, lots of guests, and his television quit working, and they could hear "crackling" and smell smoke". I got the address and advised him to get everybody out of the house and turn the power off at the main, and "we'll swing by there and check it out for you". The address was located right on the border between 10 and 11's area, since I was driving the ladder we'd be on the assignment anyway. I hit the in-station alarm button, and hollered at the Captain who was in the shower. He said go ahead and run the truck as first due. Enroute we notified the Alarm Room of a "walk-in" report and requested a full Residential assignment be dispatched. Straight up, by the book. A "walk-in" report covered everything from somebody stopping in to report something, to a phone report, to getting a report form a PD officer in our quarters.

We got on the scene, got it all taken care before our second due companies even got there. Kick ass, take names, and get rockin'. A very nice area, very nice, expensive homes, lots of well dressed folks hanging around, small fire handled with minimal damage. We did notice on the refrigerator door an old phone sticker with the 7 digit number on it.

It should be noted here that we dealt with a lot of celebrities, movie and tv people, sports stars, and the rich and famous on a regular and frequent basis. No big deal, after while you didn't pay any more attention to them than you did the residents of "Yaqui-town" in the south end. Everybody is just folks, you got a problem we take care of it.

The next morning as we're getting ready to leave at 0800 shift change, the Captain comes out and says that the crew from Truck 10 and himself are to report to administrative headquarters immediately. It's like oh sh!t, now what did we do. We went over to admin, and were escorted to the Division Chiefs office (big time oh sh!t). There stands the guy from yesterdays fire with the D.C., the Chief asked who answered the phone at Station 10 when this call came in. I fessed up. The guy tells us that he was very concerned when the problem occured, but when I told him how to hanldle it, and that " we'll swing by there and check it out" he knew everything was gonna be just fine. "If the fireman wasn't all excited, why should I be"?

Turns out the guy was a very high official in the Justice Department and a very close personal friend of the Division Chief. The whole crew got a Commendation for our professional conduct and actions to minimize damage to his property. Somedays you just can't lose for trying!!!

Ted Duncan
11-29-2010, 04:32 PM
Similar posts on The Siren Board:
http://airraidsirens.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1954&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Jon VanDermark
11-29-2010, 05:15 PM
I once lived in a small town that had an airhorn on top of the town hall. The town was divided into zones with a corresponding 3 digit number. If there was a fire call in a particular area, the dispatcher would sound the horn giving the zone number, so for zone 343 there would be 3 blasts-pause- 4 blasts pause-three blasts and repeat. If there was an ambulance call it was 2-2-2.

Robert Shepard
11-29-2010, 05:22 PM
Before 911 if you wanted to contact the California Highway Patrol for an emergency, you would dial "Operator" and ask for ZEnith 1 -2000. They still maintain this number.

http://www.answers.com/topic/zenith-number

Mike McDonald
11-29-2010, 05:34 PM
Rob: They also named their (Internal) Publication to all CHP Officers and Admin People "ZENITH 12000". It kind of replaced the old "California Highway Patrolman" Monthly Magazine except it doesn't have any advertising... but still has the grizzly photos. (*) During their 75th Year Anniversary a few yaers ago, we toured our Restored 1989 X-CHP Mustang to (invited) CHP events all over the state and added us to their no fee subscription list ... probably civilians are not supposed to have it... but it's very interesting at times. MM

Robert Shepard
11-29-2010, 05:59 PM
Mike - I was a long time subscriber to the "California Highyway Patrolman". The annual subsciption rate was $8.00 in the 1970's. The photos of the accidents were not for public consumption, as they were very graphic. On two occasions I found myself in the photos that were shot at a major injury accident scene.

The CHP did not have handheld radios well into the 70's. When they got them the mobile in their patrol cars acted as a repeater. I think this still the case today. I can remember multiple agencies on scene during a call, and all of their vehicles were blaring radio traffic through their siren speakers; mine included.

Here is a link to a 3 part history of CHP radios:

http://www.wb6nvh.com/CHP/CHP1.htm

Jeremy D. Ledford
11-29-2010, 07:52 PM
Reading this brings a few things to mind to share here!

Our funeral home was of course low band and used a bout three frequenceys. One of the call signs was KGZ 975 which I on a Dynamo label that I have on the Mo-Com 70 radio head in my 73 M-M combo along with #204 which was the number for the car that was based out of our funeral home. Our radios were a mixture of Motorola, Hammarlund and G.E units of which I have a couple of the actual units that were from our cars. In 1972 our funeral home purchased a new 1972 M-M 54" Lifeliner ambulance that was equipped with the H.E.A.R. radio system and we were the first ambulance service in our area to have a H.E.A.R. unit at that time. And like others have said just about everybody had a radio in their personal cars as well. Our funeral homes ceased ambulance service in 1983.

Another story I have to ad is about my one and only ambulance call that I took at the funeral home. I was in embalming school from 2002 till 2004 and worked in Nashville during that time. One Saturday I was working at the funeral home and it was a quite day. The phone rang and I answered, Roesch Patton Austin Bracey and Charlton Funeral Home this is Jeremy Ledford can I help you? The voice at the other end sounded like an elderly lady in distress and she had fallen and needed us to send out our ambulance to her! I paused for a second and really thought it was some of the guys I went to school with pulling a prank on me of some kind since they knew I was into ambulances that once were ran by the funeral homes. But I calmly said to her this is a funeral home and that we no longer offered ambulance service and for her to call 911 and assured her all would be OK and hung up the phone. About a minute later the phone rang again, same little lady again, I then knew something was wrong at this point and knew it wasn't some sort of prank call. She told me what was wrong that she had fallen and couldn’t get up and that she was hurt. I calmly got her address, phone number and the phone number for her daughter and were she was in the house and I told her I was going to call for help for her and that I would call her back after I did so and stay on the phone with her till help arrived. I called the local EMS and fire department nearest to her home for her notifying them and her daughter of what the problem was and telling them where she was in her house. After I called for help I called her back and stayed on the line with her till the medics arrived and took over. Later her daughter called me back at the funeral home thanking me for my help and informed me that her mother had fallen and broken her hip. She lived in the next county over from us and we could never figure out how she gotten the funeral homes number and called us.

And Russell, I really like what you said here, Everybody is just folks, you got a problem we take care of it.

Tony Karsnia
11-29-2010, 09:29 PM
Minnesota Highway Patrol: Zenith 7000

Forgot about that until you mentioned the California number, Robert.

Tony Karsnia
11-29-2010, 09:33 PM
"Roesch Patton Austin Bracey and Charlton Funeral Home this is Jeremy Ledford can I help you?"

Good grief, Jeremy...by the time you said all that, it is a wonder there was anybody still on the other end of the line! :blahblah: :D

Mike McDonald
11-30-2010, 11:34 AM
Mike - I was a long time subscriber to the "California Highyway Patrolman". The annual subsciption rate was $8.00 in the 1970's. The photos of the accidents were not for public consumption, as they were very graphic. On two occasions I found myself in the photos that were shot at a major injury accident scene.

The CHP did not have handheld radios well into the 70's. When they got them the mobile in their patrol cars acted as a repeater. I think this still the case today. I can remember multiple agencies on scene during a call, and all of their vehicles were blaring radio traffic through their siren speakers; mine included.

Here is a link to a 3 part history of CHP radios:

http://www.wb6nvh.com/CHP/CHP1.htm

Rob: The library at our High School in the 60's (Fallbrook-San Diego County, CA) always had a current issue of "The California Highway Patrolman" on hand. I think the VERY graphic pictures of accident scenes were intended to discourage drinking and driving teenagers...... and probably worked somewhat. The VHF Handheld's (are referred to as "Extenders" by the CHP) and as you said.... are still used today and are a "link" to activate the cars (fixed) mobile radios on 42.XXmg. We use a simliar system only with a (VHF-450) Link to activate our company's remote controlled (Boucher Peak-Palomar Mtn) Low-Band Base Station on 43.06. MM

Bill Leverett
11-30-2010, 01:50 PM
In Vancouver BC, before radios were available, Metropolitan Ambulance crews were provided with a roll of nickels. Before clearing the hospital and at specified points enroute back to quarters, the crews were expected to phone dispatch via pay phones. The calls were then given out as crews called in.

In the town I started in (Oliver BC), the ambulance service was run as a side-line to the taxi service. Same number for both and always someone to answer the phone. When an ambulance call came in, one of the taxi drivers (the owner of the service) came back to the taxi office to staff the ambulance. Another attendant was phoned as well and responded to the taxi office. It was also a roster system, calling down the list until the ambulance was crewed.

Pagers changed all of that, thank goodness. However, in the town south of us (Osoyoos, BC) you could only call an ambulance by going through a doctor or the police. The doctor or police called a number that set off the ambulance crew pagers. The 2 crew members on-call would respond directly to where the ambulance was garaged (at the fire hall). The doctor or police that called the automatic page number would then wait approx. 3 minutes and phone the fire hall to give the information to the ambulance crew (hopefully) now waiting at the fire hall.

It's interesting to hear how many different types of systems there were out there...some very basic and some quite advanced. No wonder "Radio Dispatched" was a designation services wished to advertise.

Kevin O'Connell
11-30-2010, 02:33 PM
LAPD was the fourth agency in California to enter the world of radio dispatching, receiving their license for "KGPL" in 1931. Cars were equipped with receive-only radios on 1712 Kc AM. At night, their 500 watt signal could be heard from the East Coast to Hawaii and Alaska. Dispatchers were required to give their names at the end of each call. Their best-known dispatcher was Sgt. Jesse Rosenquist. He would drag out the first syllable of his name at the end of each broadcast-"Roooooosenquist". There aren't any recordings of Rosenquist at work but here's a sampling of his voice on the CBS radio show, "Calling All Cars":

http://harrymarnell.net/media/rquistcalls.wav

Robert Shepard
11-30-2010, 07:05 PM
Thanks Kevin! Let us not forget L.A.P.D. KMA367.

http://harrymarnell.net/kma367.htm

Anthony J. Rzucidlo
11-30-2010, 07:08 PM
The Detroit Police (Michigan) was the first to develope and operate the first radio system in the country for law enforcement and I would say other emergency services as well back in 1922. Of course it was a one way radio system, only could receive calls. But none the less it was the first.

Ted Duncan
12-02-2010, 05:38 PM
I once lived in a small town that had an airhorn on top of the town hall.

Like this? http://www.gamewelldiaphone.com/main.php

Jon VanDermark
12-02-2010, 07:25 PM
Like this? http://www.gamewelldiaphone.com/main.php

Yup. That was exactly what it was.

Jon

Derrick Walden
11-15-2014, 02:12 AM
Here in Idaho , most areas have just two frequencies for EMS communications which is statewide and this has been the case for over 40 years . " State Comm " as we call it has one channel on 155.340 megahertz used for VHF ambulance to hospital communications . The other channel operating on 155.280 megahertz is used for coordination and dispatch of rural agencies that are otherwise not dispatched from a local Public Safety Answering Point ( PSAP ) , such as a county sheriff's office or fire department communications center . Just a small handful of areas that were more populated with a paramedic system like Boise and Idaho Falls did use the UHF telemetry " med channels " to communicate with base station hospitals . However in my area , that is not the case . We're dispatched from a regional E-911 Communications Center along with local Quick Response Units (QRUs), that are practically rural volunteer first responders trained at the EMT-Basic level . Currently , we still use the conventional UHF bandwidth in my area and will sometime in the near future be moving over to a new 700 megahertz digital radio system . The first time I ever picked up a radio in an ambulance was when I worked after school helping out on our local ambulance service to put the unit I was riding on back in service from the hospital . You had to be careful what you said because we used the same frequency to call into the hospital on and with the repeater system that was in place at the time , what you said could be heard all over the state of Idaho .

Terry Broussard
11-15-2014, 07:36 AM
on a radio frequency shared with a lumber yard. When I started in '77, we had a dispatch channel and the HEAR system for the hospitals. Now, some 38 years later, we still maintain and test the HEAR system every Wednesday in central Louisiana. However, mostly just disaster back-up for ER to ER comm.