That won’t be the case today, however, when several people in the EMS field gather at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre on the Marietta Square to kick off National Emergency Medical Services Week, which honors those who serve on the front lines of medicine.
The movie house will show “Mother, Jugs and Speed,” a 1976 comedy starring Bill Cosby, Raquel Welch and Harvey Keitel, where two privately owned ambulance companies compete for the city contract in Los Angeles.
Larry Davis, 63, of Marietta, a paramedic who has worked 35 years in the EMS field, says the movie is the perfect way to celebrate the week because “it is the story of what EMS was in the very beginning in private services on the West Coast.” He said while humorous, the movie shows how things were done “in the old days.”
Davis said the EMS industry can date its beginnings to the early ’70s. In addition to a number of medics coming back from Vietnam with training in trauma care, Davis told the MDJ a federal report had been released in 1967 that said more lives could be saved after car crashes if the public knew some basic skills when responding to such an event.
About the same time, Davis said, heart doctors were working with the idea lives could also be saved if patients with a medical issue could be seen by trained individuals out in the field.
“That all kind of came together and that synergy … caused the EMS programs to begin to be born in the early 1970s,” Davis said.
He went on to say a TV show called “Emergency!”— which ran from 1972-79 and showed a fictitious paramedic team in action in Los Angeles —got people asking why they didn’t have EMS services in their own communities, and the show spurred the EMS movement even further.
A reunion and celebration
State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb), a registered nurse who chairs the Georgia House Health and Human Services Committee, said making the public aware of what people in the EMS industry do is a “very positive thing.”
“EMTs are very often the first responders to any type of emergency,” Cooper said. “Their services are the difference between life and death. We tend to overlook how important they are.”
Today’s event, Davis said, will serve as a reunion, where people such as Phil Petty, the former director for EMS education with the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education, can connect with people who were in the field during EMS’ infancy, as well as those who are starting out as EMTs and paramedics today.
It is also a moment to take time to memorialize comrades in the EMS community. Davis said there are plans to pay tribute to Bo Pounds, who founded Metro Ambulance Service in 1968 in Marietta. Pounds died Friday.
Attending the movie will also give the public a chance to thank EMS workers and see them out of uniform.
“When they take the uniform off and go into their private lives, there are all kinds of talents that emerge in people,” Davis said.
Davis’ own skills go beyond the ambulance.
A self-taught musician, Davis has been playing organ for more than 50 years. He will open today’s event at the Strand by playing the theater’s organ. He is also emceeing the event.
The theater opens at 1:30 p.m., the show starts at 2:30 and the movie will be at 3. Tickets are $8 for adults, and $7 seniors and students.