1968: William Grace, MD

1968: William Grace, MD

Cross Posted: Timeline; Biographies; In memoriam; By Era
Submitter/Author: Cygnus





    The late William Grace, M.D., F.C.C.P   is considered one of the great pioneers in modern cardiac care. In 1968, the St. Vincent 's Hospital and Medical Center of New York initiated the Nation’s first mobile coronary care unit as a result of a preceding feasibility study which had been funded by a grant from the Federal Regional Medical Program (RMP). In the previous year, the United States Public Health Service had estimated that there were approximately a half-million acute myocardial infarction deaths in the United States annually. It was also reported that at least 50% to 75% of these patients died before receiving medical attention at a hospital. Recently established Coronary Care Units (CCU’s) within hospitals had already resulted in a substantial reduction in cardiac patient death rates through the early detection and control of life- threatening arrhythmias. 

    Dr. Grace, Director of Medicine and a chest surgeon at St. Vincent's, along with his associate John A. Chadbourn, M.D. concluded that it was likely that if one could reach the patient sooner, more patient lives could be saved by control

ling the life-threatening arrhythmias which killed most of the patients. The concept of moving the coronary care unit outside the hospital to the patient's side had been first demonstrated by Dr. Frank Pantridge and Dr. John Geddes of the Royal Belfast Hospital in Northern Ireland in 1967.  

    St. Vincent’s first Mobile Coronary Care Unit (MCCU) was configured on a White over Red 1968 Chevrolet Step-Van and utilized a portable battery powered defibrillator/ monitor; a battery-powered electrocardiograph, I.V. kit, resuscitation/ oxygen kit and a drug kit. Personnel included a Red Cross Advanced First Aid trained driver and attendant, an attending physician, resident physician, emergency room nurse, ECG technician and a student nurse observer. The Manhattan New York City Police dispatcher would usually receive “cardiac” calls from beat police officers or the public and alert the St. Vincent hospital operator via telephone. When a cardiac call came in, the on-duty team would be alerted through a personal belt pager and would only have four minutes to arrive in the in the emergency room, gather all equipment and go en-route to the call. The MCCU had a rotating red beacon and red front and rear flashing lights, but no siren and drove at normal speed to a call. The Saint Vincent MCCU response area was bordered by 34th Street to Canal Street and Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River and could often take as long as 15-25 minutes to travel to the most distant location within the St. Vincent ambulance district. 

    Upon arrival, the team obtained the patients vital signs, obtained a 12 lead electrocardiogram, started an IV and administered required medications. The return to St. Vincent ’s hospital was non-emergency and the patient was usually taken directly to the coronary care unit. In the early 70’s, the Chevrolet Step-van was replaced with a Grumman Mark 1 modular ambulance vehicle and a Life-Pak II. The success of the Saint Vincent's MCCU Project inspired the development of the "HeartMobile" in Columbus, Medic 1 in Seattle, as well as similar pioneer programs in Marietta, GA , Montgomery County, MD and Los Angeles in 1970. Dr. Grace passed away in 1974.

Keywords: St. Vincents,coronary care, New York

External Resource Link: http://www.emsmuseum.org/virtual-museum/history/videos/398676-St-Vincents-Hospital-EMS-New-York-City

Last Revision Date: 6/10/08 - 3:50 PM

3 Memory Shared

Report AbusePosted by Cancelh on Thursday, September 15, 2011 09:43 AM Pacific
This picture shows me (Henry Cancel) on the right holding the O2 tank on the stretcher. I was an MVO (Motor Vehicle Operator) at the time, not even an EMT yet, and Freemon Fitzgerald aproaching the Bus in the left(also an MVO). Thats Dr. Grace with the glasses. Taking the BP I believe is Dr. Chadbourn. On the ground is a Life pack 3 or 4. If you look at the ambulance (Bus) you will see the first time a center mount stretcher was used. This was so the Docs can work on a patient from both sides. The picture above this one shows the first MICU ambulance used in the country on a call. It was retired prior to my start at St. Vincent's. I was the only hospital emloyee to get paid to go to medic school and I was the first and only hospital employee at the time to become a Paramedic. All other Paramedics were hired from outside sources. I am sharing this info for the history of St. Vincents EMS....Henry Cancel
Report AbusePosted by cancelh on Thursday, September 15, 2011 09:53 AM Pacific
My very first ambulance call as a new employee in the ambulance department was on this ambulance in 1974. It was a cardiac arrest in the NY Telephone Building on 7th Ave South in Greenwich Village. I was assigned as an observer since it was my first day. We went up to th 8th floor and a male was lying on the floor with a fellow employee performing CPR. The Docs went to work and they resusitatated the patient. I helped to carry equipment down to the ambulance with a student nurse who also was an observer. St. Vincent's had a school of nursing and the nurse's would students would ride if there was room.....Henry Cancel
Report AbusePosted by Mherrada on Sunday, August 26, 2012 05:30 PM Pacific
I teach CPR, and First Aid to the community in Virginia, DC, MD. and I'm understanding the importance of it, great that Mr. Grace has develop the technique of CPR.

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