City of Akron Fire Department Celebrates 45th anniversary of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program

Akron, Ohio, Nov. 15, 2023 — Today, the City of Akron Fire Department held a ceremony to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program here in the city. The luncheon, held at the Local 330 Fire Union Hall, was well attended by current and former firefighters and elected officials. The Akron Fire Department Emergency Medical Services program began on November 15, 1978 with a volunteer crew of 25 paramedics. Today, the program maintains 153 paramedics throughout the city.

“Today, we are honored to celebrate this incredible milestone with our brothers and sisters of the Akron Fire Department,” said Akron Fire Chief Joseph Natko. “What began as a small group of dedicated individuals, has ballooned into a robust program serving the residents of Akron and routinely saving lives. Akron’s EMS program is award-winning and highly regarded across the state, and we are proud to continue the strong tradition of excellence that was established 45 years ago today.”

In Nov. 1978, a volunteer crew of 25 paramedics operating out of three Akron Fire Department ambulances started the Emergency Medical Services program. Fresh out of paramedic school with no veteran paramedics to rely on, these men embarked on uncharted territory and were responsible for setting some of the standards still seen in the EMS program today. In 1979, Akron’s first full year of paramedic service, these crews responded to 12,761 calls for medical service. The first paramedics were: Bernie Callison, Pat Caprez, Bob Chatman, Jack Clark, Ernie Davis, Joe Denholm, Mike Dyer, Wade Farmer, Dick Fiegly, Mike Goodman, Roger Hoover, Jack Liedel, Dan Markham, Dick Marsh, Tim Metcalf, Terry Miller, John Montavon, John Parker, Jim Rife, Rick Rogers, Don Selby, Larry Steele, Charlie Stroup, Don Winnen, and John Woofter.

Much has changed since 1978, and services have been made better with technology and education. The Emergency Medical Services program has been an overwhelming success and now maintains 153 paramedics throughout the 13 Akron Fire Department’s advance life support ambulances. On average, Akron’s EMS crews respond to 124 calls per day with some days seeing over 150 calls. In 2022, they responded to a total of 45,216 calls for medical service. These calls range from car accidents to heart attacks and everything in between.

“Our EMS crews consistently interact with our residents on some of the worst days of their lives, and they do so with a calm demeanor and the professionalism and empathy that have come to define this Fire Department,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “I’m incredibly proud to celebrate this milestone of 45 years. I know over the next 45 years, our paramedics will continue to serve the city with the same dedication and compassion as the original 25 volunteers did. Congratulations, Akron Fire!”

Contact: City of Akron Press Office or 330-375-2345