First ambulance

Powerhouse Yard, Kingston, 1925

1913 – 1935 The Ambulance Service

The Ambulance Service began its life in 1913 as a single model T-Ford, owned and operated by the Transport Section of the Australian Federal Government.

Throughout the 1920’s, Medical Officer  Dr. RM Thomson trained volunteers in administering first aid  and transporting sick or injured Canberra workmen.

The single ambulance was stored in the timber yard adjacent to the Kingston Power House.

1935 – 1955 The Fire Service

In 1935 the Ambulance Service was incorporated with the newly formed Fire Service which was administered by the Department of the Interior.

Fire officers with first aid certificates were rostered for ambulance duties for an additional allowance of 5 shillings.

The combined Fire and Ambulance Service continued to operate out of Kingston during this time.

1955 – 1968 The Canberra Ambulance Service

First Ambulance Station in the ACT

First Ambulance Station in the ACT

In 1955, the Ambulance Service was separated from the Fire Service and given its own identity, the Canberra Ambulance Service. The service was comprised of a superintendent and six ambulance officers who were each paid £14.0.9 per week.

The service was based at an ex-fireman’s house at 27 Manuka Circle, until 1967 when the ACT Ambulance Service was given its first purpose-built station in Griffith.

1968 – 1993 The ACT Ambulance Service

Patient being loaded into ambulance

Loading a patient at night – 1970’s.

On February 15, 1968, the service was renamed to the ACT Ambulance Service (ACTAS), which fell under the jurisdiction of ACT Health Services. Around the same time, the service moved to its new headquarters in Dickson.

As Canberra grew, the ACT Ambulance Service slowly expanded and new stations were opened in Phillip in 1970 and Belconnen in 1973. By 1985, the service consisted of 56 staff and 12 ambulance vehicles.

1993 – 2011 The ACT Ambulance Service

In 1994 the ACT Ambulance Service amalgamated with other ACT emergency services organisations under the ACT Emergency Services Bureau. The Ambulance Service headquarters was moved to Curtin.

New fleet of Ford ambulances

New fleet of Ford ambulances

Shortly after, the Ambulance Service took delivery of a new fleet of Ford ambulance vehicles, identifying themselves as Mobile Intensive Care units (although the service had been providing intensive care for years before).

Currently, the ACT Ambulance Service is part of the ACT Emergency Services Agency (an agency of the Justice and Community Safety directorate) based in Fairbairn. There are now seven ambulance stations throughout Canberra, over 170 staff and more than 25 vehicles available to provide medical assistance and care to ACT residents.

2011 ambulance at Dickson station