In 1967, Pittsburgh’s inner city produced America’s first EMT service. Comprised solely of Black men and women recruited from the city’s Hill District neighborhood, the paramedics of Freedom House Ambulance became trailblazers in providing pre-hospital and CPR care.
Freedom House was initially conceived to respond to the needs of Pittsburgh’s African American community who often times, couldn’t rely on police and fire departments during an emergency. Their ground breaking work became the basis for all paramedics training in the country. However, despite its success – racism and power dynamics in Pittsburgh shut down Freedom House in 1975, leaving its legacy almost lost to history.
This 30-minute documentary explores the rise and fall of Freedom House Ambulance. With rare archival images, the program features the story of inception from an original founder, compelling reflections of surviving paramedics, stories of the world-renowned doctors who trained them, and memories of lifelong Hill District residents.