Dutch ambulances (1945-1975)

Dutch ambulances (1945-1975)

:   K.J.J. Waldeck, M.D., Ph.D.
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2043-2
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Dutch ambulances (1945-1975)'

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Ambulances survived the war but they were hardly usable anymore to fulfil their purpose. In the reconstruction period after World War II the transportation of the seriously ill and injured had to be restored therefore as well.

The patients

As a result of the war, complicated and radical medicamental as well as surgical treatments became available, namely antibiotics for severe infections and surgery of the lung for tuberculosis. These conditions could only be treated in hospitals. The ill and injured usually were not at the top of their form when they went to the hospital and therefore they had to be transported recumbently. The most likely vehicle for that purpose after the war was to be the ambulance, despite the shortage of chassis to built these vehicles on.

Care und care providers

Up to twenty-five years after the war the aid to patients was still confined to bandaging, putting splints on, and the transportation of seriously ill and injured people. The successfully life saving methods, like mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and external cardiac massage, were not to be rediscovered until the late fifties. At the well-known services the ambulance crew consisted of a driver, who was also the stretcher-bearer, and an attendant. These profes-

sionals did not have a specific training for their job, but much was learnt by experience. Outside the large cities it was not an uncommon view that the crew consisted of only the driver / stretcher-bearer who was merely a first -aider. The daily job of the driver could for instanee be a motor mechanie or even a pall-bearer for an undertaker. It also occurred that local cab drivers, bakers or butchers taak place behind the wheel if that was necessary. Suchlike drivers could not do more than open the oxygen device, which was fitted in the dashboard of the vehicle, a little bit more if they heard the patient maan.

Equipment und vehides

The equipment was very sober until the end of the sixties. On board there were enough cloth and blankets to wrap the patients up sufficiently. The aids were restricted to a urinal, a chamber pot, and same small sandbags, which were used to support braken limbs. Beside these attributes there would normally be a first-aid kit sa that a bandage could be applied if injuries were sustained and a few wire splints. At same larger, local services the so-called PuImomat® was placed in the vehicle during the poliomyelitis epidemie in the fifties. Since then the crew was able to perform arrilicial respiration at people who were suffering from breath paralysis. The equipment was not suitable on the other hand to put patients on life support who suffered from an acute illness or

an injury of the breast after an accident. The rediscovery of the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and external cardiac massage opened the possibility of direct medical attendance outside the hospitaL It was only after this rediscovery that suction and oxygen apparatus were fitted in the ambulances. In later years more adequate respirators made their appearance.

After the war the ambulance services had only a few vehicles at their disposal; namely the ambulances from before the war and the few military ambulances of the Allies which survived, like Austins, Fords, and Chevrolets. In order to transport civilians the chassis of these old ambulances were used to build new ambulances on. When the Marshall help of 1947 had been well under way it gradually became possible to import chassis of American passenger cars. Dutch coachbuilders like Visser Bros. from Leeuwarden, andAkkermans from Oud Gastel, built unique ambulance coaches on those American chassis. In the sixties these vehicles were replaced by German ambulances. Binz from Lorch and Miesen situated in Bonn (former West -Germany ) made these more or less standardised ambulances. The American ambulances were hard to forget and that is why especially Chevrolets with a Dutch body remained very popular.


Until the 197 Os the ambulance service was controlled by local health services, privately owned businesses, hospitals, and to a small extent by the Red Cross and same first -aid associations. There was hardly any organisation. Anyone who wanted to estab-

lish an ambulance service could do sa as there were na real demands that had to be met. Even though there was na national emergency phone number, each local council did have its own emergency number. The station on the other hand was not permanently staffed which resulted in enough ambulances from all four quarters ofthe compass at the place ofthe accident, or not even one from the local region. Much discus sion taak place concerning the transportation of the patient to a hospital, even at the scene of the accident in front of the patient. The national gavernment did not stay passive concerning the developments in the area of urgent medical attention. The government taak the initiative in a bill, called the Ambulance Services Act (Wet Ambulancevervoer), which became law in 1971. The law was revised in 1976. It still was a generalAct that was to be foHowed by further decrees in the years to foHow like the decree of Requirements of Ambulance services (Eisenbesluit Ambulancevervoer) from 1976 and the 1978 decree on the Inventory of Ambulance cars (Inventarisbesluit Ambulancevervoer). The ambulance had been transformed into a Mobile Intensive Care Unit. In this unit all the absolutely necessary medical attention could be given to the patient without having to wait until the patient was actuaHy in the hospitaL Finally justice had been done to the word ambulance. It regained its former glory of 'hópital ambulante' or in other words: mobile hospital. The decree of Requirements of Ambulance services (Eisenbesluit Ambulancevervoer) set the minimal requirements an ambulance had to meet. Especially the equipment ofthe ambulance, and full knowledge and skill of the ambulance crew were the main aspects that would change after 197 S.

1 Austin K2 Y, 2 tons, 4 x 2 (approx. 1942) of the Central Board of the Dutch Red Cross. A large number of these former British army ambulances were donated to the Dutch after World War Il. These Austins are lined up in the compound of the Red Cross on Fahrenheitstraat, at the corner of Laan van Meerdervoort in The Hague. The original colour of these vehicles had been army green. In a later stadium many were sprayed white.

2 Austin K2 Y, 2 tons, 4 x 2 (about 1942) of the Central Board of the Dutch Red Cross. A permanent door has replaced the original canvas door. The registration number is currently a civilian number in South-Holland. The sign of the Red Cross is still a small one as in wartime the cross was an easily target to aim at.

3 Austin K2 Y, 2 tons, 4 x 2 (circa 1942) of the Central Board of the Dutch Red Cross. In the garage of the Dutch Red Cross on Fahrenheitstraat, at the corner of Laan van Meerdervoort in The Hague all the Austins were sprayed white. The sign of the Red Cross had been increased compared to the ones used during war. The chance that another shot would be fired at the vehicle because of the cross was highly unlikely. After the war these Austins were brought into action in case of a disaster.

4 Austin K2 Y, 2 tons, 4 x 2 (approx. 1942) oftheRotterdam delegation of the Dutch Red Cross with its original canvas door. In this model a maximum of four patients could be transported at the same time. The Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) also used this type at Amsterdam Airport.

5 Left: Austin K2 Y, 2 tons,

4 x 2 (approx. 1942) built by Visser Bros., Leeuwarden on the frame of an army ambulance. Probably ofthe Dutch Red Cross because of the white trim and the registration number. The Municipal Health Service (GGD) inArnhem used a similar kind of Austin.

The right picture shows the same Austin K2 Y, 2 tons, 4 x 2 (approx.1948). The interior is Spartan-like and is compensated by the leaded windows with the Red Cross sign.

6 Chrysler (1948) of one of the private ambulance services (Haagsche Ziekenvervoer Onderneming) of The Hague. The company was owned by the brother of the professor in surgery at Groningen, but bom in The Hague, Michaël. The stretcher had to be pushed in through the rear of the vehicle. It would not be pos si bIe for a pregnant woman with a bulged abdomen to enter the ambulance lying on a stretcher. Similar cars (such as De Sotos) were used by the first private ambulance service (Eerste Particuliere Model Ambulance), Amsterdam.

7 Ford Fordor (1949) of the private firm Vreeling &Troost, built by Visser Bros. from Leeuwarden. The registration number dates from 195 1. This Ford model had been imported in 1949 and could be imported as a result of the Marshall help of 1948. The vehicle has a firm line and had na rotating lights, mirrors or any other attributes on the exterior.

8 Left: Packard (1950) ofthe Dutch Red Cross. This picture has probably been taken on the promenade ofScheveningen. The body-work came from Visser Bros., Leeuwarden. The huge front of the car

has been decorated with a swan. In after years these ornaments were banned because of the potential danger they could have for pedestrians and cyclists in case of a collision.

Right: Packard (1950).The model of the stretcher is one of the Riemvis-type with big, rounded suspension-feathers. Next to the stretcher a socalled sedan chair.

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