|The first ambulance under the Receiving
Hospital System was a 1914 Premier, and as near as I can remember at
this time, it was manned by two police officers.
Through the years, one of the officers was
replaced by a doctor or nurse. Sometime in the late 1920’s or early
1930’s the remaining officer was replaced by an ambulance driver,
and sometime later, the doctor or nurse was assigned inside the
receiving hospital, and replaced on the ambulance by an attendant.
The Ambulance Department was under the Receiving Hospital System.
The starting position was Ambulance Driver, then up a step to
Ambulance Attendant, then up another step to Senior Ambulance
Attendant, and then up to Chief Attendant.
The Fire Department also had its doctor, and
they transported some of the sick and injured. In the 1940’s or
1950’s, or both, the fire fighters who manned the Fire Department
ambulances received a goodly portion of their training from the
Receiving Hospital, as did the crews working out of the police
stations. The Receiving Hospital continued "in service" training of
the ambulance crews up to the last day, prior to their being
transferred to the Fire Department. The learning by the ambulance
crews from the doctors and nurses was a continuous thing, day by
day, and hour by hour. If you wanted to learn, you could, and most
of the time you didn’t need to ask.
The vehicles used to transport these persons
in need were of many different designs and names. The 1914 Premier
was a very classy looking vehicle. If it was half as nice inside as
it was outside, the patient was truly traveling in luxury.
Some of the brands used over the years were
the Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Pierce Arrow, Premier, and Studebaker,
and in later years, the Fire Department had a Cadillac.
For many years the ambulances under the
Receiving Hospital were assigned the designation of "G-unit," and
this would be combined with the division number of the station where
the ambulance was assigned. For instance, University Station
ambulance would be G-3, because University was Division Three.
However, if an ambulance was stationed at other than a police
station, it was assigned a number along with the "G," as you will
note later in this article. On the police radio system, when one of
the crew was identifying, they would give their designation and
division area number of where they were stationed. Since the G-units
responded to 98% of their calls using red lights and siren, if they
heard another G-unit or patrol car going code three, they would
radio in their location and direction of travel so that the other
vehicle would be alerted, in cases where their paths might
The ambulances and crews were stationed at
police stations, and other locations for many years. The crews
worked eight hour shifts, but it was a strange type of schedule to
say the least. The equipment was maintained by the Police
During this span of time, the motorized
ambulances went through many paint schemes. They were black, white,
gray, brown, and many shades and combinations of these colors. In
1970 when the vehicles were transferred to the Fire Department, they
were metallic brown with white roofs on the rear, box-shaped,
In 1970 all ambulances and their crews were
transferred over to the Los Angeles City Fire Department. The Chief
at that time, was Raymond Hill.
The crews continued on eight hour shifts for
some time, and then were switched to the same twenty four hour
schedule as the fire fighters. Their uniform was changed from the
police style uniform, to a white shirt with dark blue trousers. It
is my understanding that now the paramedics use the same uniform as
fire fighters, and in many cases, have become fire fighters.
Now, most, if not all of the ambulance crews
are paramedics, and they are still working the twenty four hour
shifts. These are comprised of: 24 hours on duty, 24 hours off duty,
24 hours on duty, 24 hours off duty, 24 hours on duty, and then
three days at 24 hours each are off duty.
At the present time, the Fire Department has
eighty three (83 ) ambulances, now called "rescue ambulances." Those
ambulances handle an average of two hundred thousand (200,000 )
calls a year. This is quite a bit more than we did in those "good
old days," which I remember well.
There are those who will say that the G-units
were of poor service to the citizens of Los Angeles, and there are
those who will say that it was the best service in most of the
When I came to work for the City on the
G-units, I had been employed with a private ambulance company for
just over seven years, and I was well trained. However, on my first
shift on G-3, I started learning again. In the world of the private
ambulance attendant or driver of the 1960’s, the G-units were more
than one step above the rest.
This is not the end of their rich and
sometimes troubled history, there are many more details to be added.
This is just a start so that others can contribute their
remembrances and facts; to put more leaves on the tree and give it
|However, Alice felt one of her greatest
contributions to the City was her work for the LAPD Museum.
Throughout her 35year career, she collected police mementos, and for
more than five years before she retired, she worked towards the day
when a permanent Museum would be available for all to visit.
She put together 28 wall units containing
police history, and placed them in police buildings throughout the
City before she retired. Unfortunately, through neglect, they have
disappeared over time.
After 35 years of service, Alice retired in
1945, at the age of 72. She continued to lecture on the need for
policewomen, as she firmly believed that the female police officer
was uniquely suited to perform protective and preventive work with
women and children. On August 17, 1957, at the age of 84, Alice
Stebbins Wells, the tiny, Bible carrying woman who stepped into
history 47 years earlier, passed away in Glendale, California, from
a heart attack. She was laid to rest in Forest Lawn,