History of Hudson EMS

History of Hudson EMS

by Ray Saviciunas

In 1975, residents of the Village of Hudson and the surrounding Hudson Township felt the need for a local ambulance service. "At the time, a call for medical help would bring a response from private companies in Akron, and for a brief period, from a service from Stow," said Claire Truesdale, who served as Hudson Volunteer Medical Service Director (now known as Hudson EMS) from 1977 to 1997.

Initially, both local fire and police departments did not want to be involved with the idea, but a core of originators, predominantly local women, pressed on with the idea in 1976.

"We went to fire departments who were doing EMS to ask questions to get a basis on how to do this," said Truesdale, who along with other area women, comprised the bulk of initial volunteers working toward the goal. At the time, women on EMS crews was considered unusual, and the reception Truesdale and her crew received was not always warm. Some departments welcomed the idea, others declined to continue the conversation at the mention of female squad members. "Most people had the attitude: 'you can't do this'," said Truesdale.

The studies and fundraising went on for two years, with the Hudson Jaycees prominent in the effort. Terex Corporation, a heavy equipment manufacturer located at the current JoAnn Fabrics location, also played a prominent role in the service's development. "Terex was helpful to us," said Truesdale. "They let us use the cafeteria and some offices, and they donated a stripped-out van." A local furniture maker built the interior of the new squad after seeing other ambulances that were in service in the area. A cot and other equipment for the first ambulance were purchased as well, she said.

Meanwhile, Truesdale, a trained ski patroller, and Pat Smith attended Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) classes held at the Terex plant. Announcements were placed in local publications calling for drivers and EMTs to join. A training class was held for the new membership, a tradition that continues today in the EMT-B classes offered, as well as CPR classes for healthcare workers and the community at large.

A search for an operations base led to a conversation with a Sohio (now known as BP) executive who offered a former automotive dealership located near Rt. 91 and Ravenna Rd. The building, known as "Glad House," was leased for a dollar a year with permission to renovate the interior space to suit the service's needs. The building, located across the street from the Yours Truly restaurant no longer exists today.

The building was cleaned and painted. Used items such as a clean red carpet and two couches, one red, one purple, offered function and creature comforts. The heating system worked well on the upper floor where crew quarters were, but did little for the office space below. Truesdale and others learned the value of dressing in layers during the winter months.

On April 2, 1977 the service first officially began operations with approximately 45 members on the roster. Truesdale was formally appointed director by the the operations board and 24/7 station staffing began. Shift times included a 7 am to 1 pm slot to allow members with children to meet them after school. This is a tradition that continues today.

The need for money quickly came to light. Money from cash donations at the station and from people such as Wills and Mace Sankey could only go so far; so an effort to put a supporting levy before voters began. Township trustees made assurances that such a levy vote would be upcoming in 1977. A committee comprised of the township trustees, representatives of the service, Hudson Jaycees and members from the community at large to determine what would be adequate funding for the service.

"Larry Truesdale, co-chairman of HVEMS, said his group has more than $17,000 in gifts and pledges, assuring operation for the ambulance for a year," stated an article in the Hudson Hub. Ballots were cast June 1977 in a special election paid for by the Hudson Jaycees for a 0.5 mil levy, which was approved by a large majority.

A physician new to Akron City Hospital at the time was looking for a new place to live. He met Claire Truesdale who invited him for a tour of the Hudson area.As a result, Dr. Michael Frank served as medical director of Hudson Volunteer Medical Services for 25 years, not once drawing a paycheck. "He regularly came into my office to see what calls we had," said Truesdale. "He was very particular," she said. Today Dr. Frank remains as a medical director emeritus and retains the radio call name "Doctor 1."

Service Milestones

  • 1979: A second ambulance was acquired and served as a backup when the first squad went out.
  • 1981: The present Safety Center was completed and put into service.
  • 1989: A third ambulance becomes available, putting the present arrangement of two squads available supplemented by a call for a crew for the third as needed.
  • 1992: The existing ambulance bays and EMS crew quarters were added to the Safety Center.
  • 2006: Shift Officers were added to the service's command structure.