Dr. David Boyd

Dr. Boyd started as a junior surgical resident at Cook County Hospital in Chicago at a time when there was no standardized way of evaluating incoming trauma patients. In Korea, the U.S. Army Medical Corps transported the wounded, often by helicopter, to nearby Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals. As a result, the mortality rate for wounded soldiers in Korea was half what it had been in World War II. But the number of Americans who were dying each year on the nation’s streets and highways roughly equaled the number that eventually died in Vietnam.

Boyd and his colleagues replicated the treatment of gunshot and vehicle accident victims based on the M.A.S.H. concept in the Chicago Area. Boyd was soon appointed the EMS Director for Illinois. From 1970 to 1974 he developed the Illinois trauma network through a combination of hospital and ambulance communication systems, trauma center performance assessment tools, new advanced equipped and staffed ambulances, and helicopters to transport critical patients from rural medical facilities to trauma centers in larger urban areas.

By 1974, Dr. Boyd’s trauma system had become fully operational. Based on that success, he was appointed by the President of the United States to serve as Chief of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division. He applied the success from Illinois with a vision of building “wall-to-wall” EMS systems throughout the country. He travelled extensively and personally met with local EMS leaders. His program built upon the successes of the previous Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants for regional communications systems. He remained in this position until 1981 when a new President and administration abolished his office and changed to medical “block grant” funding which gave the local jurisdictions decision power over what health development projects that such monies would be spent on. Boyd continued to serve EMS as a well respected Washington-based consultant on health care systems.

Submitted to NEMSM June 2008 by Cygnus Business Publications


National EMS Museum People Files, NEMSM-0003 [Please include Folder/Person’s Name]

National EMS Museum Resources

Additional Resources