In the rebirth of EMS across the U.S., few major changes occurred until the start of the 1960s. During that time, medical, historical and social forces combined talents to develop a more structured system to be utilized in the U.S. Progression fueled by innovation and passion ignited for a more strategic approach in the EMS field to improve patient care. Professionals from all medical, public and administrative backgrounds pioneered the advancements that EMS has today, and the National EMS Museum (NEMSM) preserves many legacies that holds unique stories of their own.
NEMSM is dedicated to preserving and commemorating the history of EMS and started laying the foundations of celebrating EMS milestones since June 2006. By collecting historic equipment, books and tools of the trade, NEMSM has collected hundreds of artifacts representing the past 150 years of emergency care, from 1800’s trading cards to retired equipment (including the first LifPak off the line) to uniforms, training materials and communications equipment. Through its examination of past innovations, the museum inspires EMS professionals to develop new tools and procedures to provide better and more effective emergency care to patients and communities across the U.S.
NEMSM has a virtual museum that includes collections titled “From Horse-drawn to Hospitals on Wheels,” “Changing the Practice of Emergency Medicine” and “EMS Innovators,” but its unique outreach allows enthusiasts to physically engage with various exhibits through its traveling exhibition in the U.S. Currently, NEMSM has two traveling exhibits on display with its latest one stationed in Illinois, with another one opening in Columbus in February 2020. Its exhibits are on display for 6-9 months and will be heading across the country in 2020 with stops scheduled in California, Montana, and as far south as Florida and Arizona.
Kristy Van Hoven, Director of Development for NEMSM, says, “Each exhibition tells a story and we want to showcase the pivotal moments of EMS in a easily digestible way so that people can have conversations with one another, our exhibits are a way of coming together and brining EMS to the public light.” Van Hoven continues, “As families visit and experience each exhibit, they are in awe of how EMS has paved way for a better, safer future and even have gone to their local department or station to say thanks for all the work EMS professionals have done in their community.”
The powerful pieces in each exhibit tell a unique story and each artifact is carefully curated and preserved for everyone to enjoy its legacy. Various pieces focus on first aid, EMS technology, training, communications and even contemporary art that includes a twist of cartoonist creativity as well as pieces from renowned photographer Daniel Sundahl.
NEMSM is continuously expanding its museum operations and will have more traveling exhibits available in 2020. Additionally, the museum has high ambitions ahead as it works toward opening a dedicated museum gallery in the future to bring EMS history to communities across the country.
To host an exhibition in a community space, please contact 612.298.4567. NEMSM is registered as a non-profit organization, in which individuals and organizations can donate to The National EMS Museum to help the Museum reach its goals for 2020 and beyond.