1927: Harris County Emergency Corps

1927: Harris County Emergency Corps

Cross Posted: EMS History; Ambulances; By Era; Public Sector Services
Submitter/Author: Charles Hooker-(Houston, TX)
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Ted Felds is on right

The Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) was founded in 1927 as a fully volunteer rescue and first aid group and was highly supported by both the Houston Fire Department and the Houston Police Department. Ted Felds was one of the organizations principal founders shortly after he opened a business called the Allied Safety Equipment Company in Houston. He remained the HCEC's director for many years during the era when funeral homes mostly provided ambulance service and were later joined by commercial services. Throughout the years, the HCEC responded to emergency calls throughout both the City of Houston and Harris County. When the Texas City Ship Disaster occured in 1947, the HCEC responded. It was during this incident that the vessel "High Flyer" exploded and caused Ted to loose his hearing.

During the 1960's, the Harris County Emergency Corps, Inc. expanded its operations to serve a fast growing city. The City of Houston Fire Department allowed its old Fire Station #15 at North Main Street & Houston Avenue to be used as its headquarters. In the late 60's the HCEC operated Unit 551 which was a 60's International Travel-All panel truck, Unit 552 and Unit 553 which were both late 50's Chevrolet panel trucks and its primary response Unit 554 which was a 1968 Chevrolet suburban panel truck. These units were staffed with a "running member" who drove and functioned as the senior officer, a regular member who rode "seat" and a reserve member who rode in the middle. 

"Running Members" also lived in various parts of the city and maintained private station wagons and sedans which were equipped with a resuscitator, a 36-unit first aid kit, back boards and other American Red Cross "Emergency First Aid Unit" authorized equipment. In those days, the Houston Fire Department mainly concentrated on rescue at fires and rarely responded to medical calls.  If a "resuscitator call" was received, the HCEC would dispatch the closest running member unit and a close-by member could also respond with a rescue truck when needed for accidents. The HCEC relocated to the unincorporated area of North Harris County when the Houston Fire Department took over the city-wide ambulance service in April-1971.

During follow-on years, the HCEC greatly diminished its rescue mission and became a paramedic level ambulance service serving a district in North Harris County until the organization ceased operations in the 90's after their district was reassigned to another private 911 provider company.

Keywords: harris

Last Revision Date: 3/4/08 - 8:17 AM

2 Memory Shared

Report AbusePosted by crowe8557 on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 12:08 AM Pacific
My first American Red Cross First Aid class was from Ted Felds at the Timberlakes VFD in the mid 70's. He was very passionate about teaching and his wife was with him everywhere. Still can see him with the stubby fat cigar and listening to the feedback from the hearing aid in his pocket. Went on after that to work with him at the Astrodome in those early years when you got a pocket of 4x4s and a wheelchair to save the world! Simple times...........
Report AbusePosted by pynky01 on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 11:25 PM Pacific
I had the honor of knowing Mr. Felds. I bought his business, the Allied Safety Equipment Company. He used to tap on his hearing aid and have that cigar in his mouth. I understand he lost his hearing while responding to the Texas City disaster with his white ambulance and made it just before the second explosion. I am not sure how true this was, about the explosion, but knowing Mr. Felds it fit the profile and he did have pictures of him at the Texas City disaster. In the back of one of the two buildings he rented from Mr. Adolph Koska was a cache of Civil Defense equipment and a box of geiger counters and asked him if he ever used them. He told me he was chosen by the CD people to store and otherwise be prepared at all times. One of the perks was a trip to see one of the early atomic blasts. He told me he held his hand up and saw his bones. I saw the pictures of him at the site. The business mainly dealt with the Houston Fire Department and occasionally the Houston city council got log jammed when the budget came up for vote. Some vendors would stop provisions to the fire stations and Ted would pick up the slack sometimes with his own money. The fire stations would run out of toilet paper and call Mr. Felds to please help. Mr. Felds was a great man and I keep his memory alive. Thanks for this site and the chance to say something about Mr. Felds. He changed his name from Feldsman to Felds because he was German and thought Felds sounded more American.

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