During the early 19th-century war, there were no cars or trucks of course, but the wounded needed to be transported to hospitals. Men were randomly appointed to drive ambulances, usually, those who weren’t fit for battle, but their ambulances were typically either a four-wheeled wagon or two-wheeled cart. The patient wasn’t exactly comfortable during these rides, with these crude wagons often causing more injuries to the wounded. The unpaved roads jostled them around quite a bit. That meant if the soldier managed to survive the initial wound, he’d then have to hope that he’d survive the subsequent transport.

Emergency services ambulances have evolved from horse-drawn carts to rail cars to hearses to vans to helicopters. So vital to a community’s well-being, ambulances have had a long, storied history. The word “ambulance” eventually entered the English language in the early 1800s.

Then, as it is now, ambulances are among the most recognizable and unique vehicles on the road and in the air. That wasn’t always the case more than a century ago when ambulances were powered by horsepower — real horses.


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