Littleton's Hospital: Preserving Its History.

EMS: The Early Years

1922 Ambulance

Littleton Hospital's first motor ambulance was a donation from Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Ivie of New York City and Bethlehem in 1922. This ambulance (pictured) replaced a horse drawn vehicle. The charges for ambulance calls were $3.00 within the Littleton Village District and 20 cents per mile outside of the District, with a minimum charge of $5.00. The hospital superintendent directed the operation of the ambulance service.

One of the early pioneers in Emergency Medicine, not only in the North Country but worldwide, was Dr. Harry McDade, General Surgeon. He joined the Littleton Hospital staff in 1958 when the evolution of Emergency Medicine was just starting across the country. Dr. McDade was involved nationally and regionally. In using his expertise, he established Littleton to be on the cutting edge of developments in Emergency Medicine and Trauma.

Another important player in the evolution of Emergency Medicine in the Littleton area was Tom Ross, a native of Littleton, NH. Tom graduated from Littleton High School in 1959. After that, he spent six years as a ski patroller at Cannon and Mittersill Mountains in Franconia, NH. In this role, Tom witnessed and participated in rescuing and caring for skiers involved in accidents on the mountain. His years as a professional ski patroller inspired Tom to greater work in the area of pre-hospital care of the injured.

Tom Ross

Tom graduated from Boston University with a degree in Biology, and furthered his studies in Mortuary Science, becoming a funeral director. As an apprentice in Hanover, NH, part of Tom's job was to travel by hearse to medical and surgical emergencies in the area. Before the days of private ambulance services, undertakers were the only ones with vehicles for safely transporting patients to the hospitals. In the 1960s, those involved in pre-hospital care had almost no equipment to keep the injured or seriously ill patient stable before getting to the hospital.

Tom built Ross Funeral Home in Littleton and began the operation in 1967. When Tom opened his funeral home, he took the skills from his apprenticeship and began responding to emergencies in the Littleton area using his hearse (an Oldsmobile). Since pagers or radio systems were not available, Tom received calls for emergency transport from either local police, fire, or State Police. He was extremely concerned about the level of care and the training needed to safely treat the injured and acutely ill patients he was transporting to Littleton Hospital. Also, Littleton Hospital's Emergency Room had no advance warning that they were about to receive a patient.

Tom eventually received recognition from the State of New Hampshire for his leadership in establishing a prehospital program in northern New Hampshire. In 1984, the NH Conservation Officer Force awarded Tom an honorary membership due to his invaluable service teaching New Hampshire Fish and Game personnel emergency medicine skills. The State also appointed Tom to the NH EMS Coordinating Board, which monitors the State's EMS system. The North Country owes Tom Ross a debt of gratitude for his part in EMS throughout the region.