WATCH: Rep. Lee Closes Black History Month By Introducing Resolution Honoring the Freedom House Ambulance Service

**For IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov – 330.212.2065

WATCH: Rep. Lee Closes Black History Month By Introducing Resolution Honoring the Freedom House Ambulance Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, on the last day of Black History Month, Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA) spoke on the House floor on the resolution she introduced with Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) to honor the Freedom House Ambulance Service–a group of Pittsburghers in the mid 1960s who broke medical ground by being the first emergency medical service in the country–and were staffed entirely by Black men and women. In her remarks, Rep. Lee highlighted  their important contributions and lives they saved in Western PA and across the country.

Lee and Dingell’s resolution was cosponsored by Reps. Terri Sewell, Chris Deluzio, Susan Wild, Barbara Lee, Troy Carter, and Hank Johnson to honor the Freedom House Ambulance Service. 

Watch the full speech here.

Lee said, 

 “I rise today, on the last day of Black History Month, in recognition of the Freedom House Ambulance Service, a group of  Black men and women from Pittsburgh who over 50 years ago, revolutionized emergency medical services. 

“They were the first to perform tourniquets for uncontrolled bleeding, resuscitation techniques for heart attacks, and to treat breathing problems all en-route.

“These folks were not doctors or nurses. They were from the poorest, Blackest areas of Pittsburgh. They were overlooked in a society still trying – and mostly failing – to deliver on the promise of the Civil Rights Act. And yet they set the standard for how medical professionals handle emergency care today while filling the voids of institutions that were failing them. 

“For the first time, Black folks in Pittsburgh got the medical care we needed… until they were absorbed by city government when Black neighborhoods started getting better treatment than their rich, white counterparts who refused their services.

“The Freedom House Ambulance Service saved countless lives in Pittsburgh’s most underserved neighborhoods and their legacy has saved countless lives across the country. Today I am proud to introduce a Resolution honoring them.

“As we close out Black History Month, let us not forget the Black history makers who despite barriers, made this country a better place.

“I yield back.”

Background:

The Freedom House Ambulance Service was the first ever ambulance service in the country, and was created in 1967, and revolutionized emergency street medicine to combat high mortality rates for folks who suffered heart attacks, victims of car crashes, or people who suffered gunshot wounds across the Hill District

  • Black folks often couldn’t rely on police and fire departments during an emergency, so FHAS, based in the Presbyterian and Mercy Hospitals,  was able to fill in the gaps and provide care to people as they needed it–ultimately saving lives.
  • By 1972, Freedom House employed 35 paramedics, received over 7,000 phone calls, and established the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians to formalize the field.
    • The crew pioneered several medical developments in the process, including introduction of medical physicians to ambulance work, allowing medics to transmit EKGs, using air casts to stabilize injured bones and joints, and even administering Narcan to overdose patients. 

This resolution honors the contributions that Freedom House Ambulance Service in being the first Emergency Medical Service, and highlights the contributions that the predominantly-Black Hill District in PA-12 made on medicine around the world.


Since taking office in January, Lee, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and Space, Science and Technology Committee, has delivered historic levels of federal investment totaling over $1 Billion brought back to Western PA, including over $200 million for infrastructure, over $50 million for affordable transit, and over $500 million to keep clean energy manufacturing at home in Pennsylvania. These investments will help improve Western Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and transit, ensure cleaner air and drinking water, lower housing costs, fund research institutions, fuel clean manufacturing, fund STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, boost workforce development, and create thousands of good paying union jobs.  Lee and her team have also delivered casework and constituent services to over 1,600 constituents with issues ranging from helping our seniors and disabled community access Medicare and social security to helping folks secure housing and helping families with immigration support and passports.

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