Paramedic? What’s that? Hi, my name is Randolph Mantooth, and in 1971, I asked that very question. I’d never heard the word before. Back then, fledgling programs were functioning in a few large cities, but -- just like me -- most Americans had no idea that they even existed. With the 1972 debut of a television show called Emergency!, it wasn't long before all of America knew exactly what a “paramedic” was.

As I travel the country, speaking about the history of paramedics, and about the people whose visionary ideas changed the face of emergency medicine, I find that many men and women in the EMS profession and its related industries aren’t aware of their own history. They don’t know the names of the “Pioneers of Paramedicine.” Keeping that history alive, and telling the story of the journey of EMS in America has become a passion of mine -- a torch passed on to me by my good friend, Jim Page.

As with many ideas, this one started with a simple conversation during a road trip in Minnesota last year. We asked one another -- what if we were able to bring together the four doctors who started these paramedic programs, and had Eugene Nagel from Miami, Leonard Cobb from Seattle and Michael Criley and Walter Graf from Los Angeles record their personal stories on video. These four doctors weren’t just witnesses to the birth of modern EMS -- they conceived the idea, and delivered it.

Thanks to the County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Board of Directors and our friends at 1-877-DRPIPES, our “what if” is about to become a reality. These doctors will sit down together for the first time in decades and share their stories with each other -- and with us. I believe it will be a video of significant historic importance to the EMS profession, and to the public served by that profession. Help us preserve this history -- not only for our generation, but future generations. Then join us on May 8, 2010, to honor the real heroes of your profession at the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

In these difficult economic times, I’m sure there are many worthy causes begging for your attention. As far as the EMS community is concerned, I can think of no more worthy cause than this.

We can’t do this alone. We ask for your help and support, as sponsors and as attendees. Don’t wait. Let us know today how you can help.

On behalf of the museum board of directors, and the Pioneers committee…  thank you.

Randolph Mantooth