Two cars collide in a horrific accident and the victims are in a desperate fight for their lives. What happens next?
Someone immediately calls 911 emergency services.
Yet until the 1970's, most of those emergency services didn't exist.
Prior to that time, ambulances provided no medical care. They were just transport vehicles to rush victims to the hospital, many of whom died in route.
This is where Dr. Graf played a dramatic role:
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Dr. Graf (1917 - 2015) was a renowned Los Angeles area cardiologist and his focus was heart attack victims, few of whom survived the ride to the hospital.
Dr. Walter Graf
In 1969, Dr. Graf secured an old delivery van and created "a hospital coronary unit on wheels," with a nurse and a defibrillator.
Photo provided by Margie Chidley
This pilot program was one of the first of its kind and it began saving lives.
To expand this program, Dr. Graf helped to get state approval and then defined and administered the program.
In the program, a group of carefully selected firefighters received extensive training from Dr. Graf and his colleagues. Those firefighters became the first paramedics.
Additional vans were added, carrying a wide range of equipment, allowing those paramedics to treat many emergencies.
But the public at large was unaware of this revolutionary new emergency program.
That is until 1972, when acclaimed television producer Jack Webb ("Dragnet," "Adam-12") introduced the TV series "Emergency!" portraying these new Los Angeles paramedics in action.
In first run and reruns, "Emergency!" was shown all over the world and as a result, the public demanded paramedics.
For 20 years, Dr. Graf headed what is now the UCLA – Daniel Freeman Paramedic Program graduating thousands of paramedics, in the first ever accredited paramedic training program.
So the next time you see paramedics in action, think of Dr. Graf, the cardiologist with a big heart, whose foresight and determination helped to make paramedics possible.