In 1967, Seattle cardiologist Dr. Leonard Cobb read an article about a mobile intensive care unit treating heart attack victims in the field in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was intrigued by the premise that treatment was being brought to the victim, rather than waiting for the victim to be brought to the hospital. Cobb worked with colleagues in four other cities to pursue a vision of firefighters trained as paramedics who could initiate prehospital emergency cardiac care.
In 1970, the Seattle Fire Department, in cooperation with Harborview Medical Center and the University of Washington, trained its first class of firefighters as paramedics. These first paramedics began to serve King County in a program called Medic One. During its first year, Medic One resuscitated and admitted 61 patients to the hospital, of whom 31 were ultimately discharged. Cobb’s program went well beyond addressing the delivery of ALS, also focusing on training a significant portion of the general population in CPR. The King County system has gone on to become a model for many other areas throughout the world.
Today Seattle is renowned for one of the finest EMS systems in the country and is the site of significant resuscitation research. The city’s out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates remain among the best in the United States.
Submitted to NEMSM June 2008 by Cygnus Business Publications