As a young boy in 1909, Julian Stanley Wise's life changed when he witnessed a drowning in Virginia's Roanoke River. "Right then I resolved that I was going to become a lifesaver," he later said. "Never again would I watch a man die when he could be saved."
On May 28, 1928, Wise and nine coworkers at the Norfolk and Western Railway organized the world's first volunteer rescue squad, The Roanoke Life Saving and First Aid Crew. Wise proved the concept of the squad by staging a mock rescue in 1929, sinking a 250-pound dummy in a pond and calling out the rescue squad. The city of Roanoke, impressed by the demonstration, agreed to provide communication support. A local funeral home donated an ambulance, and Wise's vision became a reality. This was the forerunner of today's pre-hospital emergency medical services. Ten years later he wrote, "There is no comprehensive history of the safety movement; someday it will be written and we shall find it a romance of high adventure."
Julian Wise died in Roanoke on July 22, 1985, at the age of 85. never having his vision of a "comprehensive history of the safety movement" realized.
With the support of a grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Julian Stanley Wise Foundation formed in 1988 to chronicle the history of the volunteer rescue squad movement and emergency medical. On June 8, 1991, The Julian Stanley Wise Foundation opened the To The Rescue Museum in Roanoke. Julian Wise's widow Ruth, was present at the opening.
Keywords: Julian Wise, Virginia, Roanoake, Lifesaving, Rescue, Museum,
Last Revision Date: 5/19/11 - 7:10 PM