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Eastern Suburbs Ambulance Service

Horse drawn ambulances at the entrance to the Coast Hospital, early 1900s

Horse drawn ambulances at the entrance to the Coast Hospital, early 1900s

Ambulance work in the Eastern Suburbs began in the late 1800s but became more organised in the early 1900s. The first ambulance station was opened on the 15 March 1909 near the old tram terminus on the corner of Beach St and Coogee Bay Road, Coogee with one hand litter.

A horse drawn ambulance was introduced in 1910 and a motor ambulance made its appearance in 1914. There were two ambulance services operating at this time, the Saint Johns Ambulance Brigade and the Civil Ambulance and Transport Corps, the forerunner of today's modern service. In the early years of the service money was raised by fund raising and the officers were dedicated volunteers. Honorary ambulance depots were located at Yarra Bay, Maroubra Bay, Clovelly Bay and Randwick Racecourse.

The New South Wales Ambulance Transport Service Act placed all ambulance services under one control in 1919. In this year a total of 4088 patients were transported, and of this number nearly 2000 were influenza victims.

Ambulance headquarters were transferred to new premises on the corner of Arden and Waltham Street, Coogee in 1921. The station could accommodate six ambulances and was opened by the NSW Governor.

A depot was opened at the corner of Mons Avenue and Marine Parade Maroubra in 1924. This station was closed in 1939 with the staff transferred to the headquarters in High Street Randwick.

In 1927 emergency call telephones for reporting accidents were installed at Darby Road, Randwick. Another form of signalling accidents was provided by the Maroubra Fire Station. Ambulance officers passed the station on the way back from hospitals, and if the flag was flying this alerted the officers to contact their base immediately because of an emergency.

The ambulance station at Coogee was sold in 1944 and the ambulance headquarters was moved to larger premises in High Street Randwick. The ambulance fleet was fitted with two-way radio in 1952.

The eastern suburbs service was integrated to form the Central District Ambulance Service in 1962. The ESAS transported over 690,000 patients over 4 million miles in 53 years of service.

In 1964 the headquarters moved to premises in Barker Street Randwick. Today Randwick Station remains the Eastern Suburbs Headquarters.

List of References

  • Patrick Kennedy, "Hand Carts, Horses - but now it's the three minute call," in Maroubra Magazine, 13 June 1984, page 2
  • "New Ambulance Station," in Randwick Coogee Weekly, 7 March 1946
  • "Ambulance Station Opened," in The Messenger, 7 March 1946