7 May: The Earliest Ambulance

Rerun: During the Siege of Malaga, on 7th May 1487, Queen Isabella of Spain commissioned bespoke bed-wagons to transport injured soldiers from the battlefield to specially-erected tent hospitals, the world’s earliest ambulance.

Despite this innovation, it was hundreds of years before the concept – and the word ‘ambulance’ – gained common currency worldwide, notably thanks to the American Civil War.

In this episode, The Retrospectors consider the propagandic purpose of transporting the wounded; evaluate the hearse-like designs of the first motorised ambulances; and reveal why ambulances were feared and ridiculed by those who had to use them… 

Further Reading:

History of the Ambulance (Liverpool Medical Institution): https://www.lmi.org.uk/history-of-the-ambulance

‘The Ambulance: A History – By Ryan Corbett Bell’ (McFarlane and Company, 2009): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/The_Ambulance/-YtlthqHmHsC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=ambulance+malaga+1487&printsec=frontcover

‘Earliest Life Saving Ambulances in History’ (Faramel, 2018): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSafOiyWvu8

This episode first premiered in 2023, for members of 🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴 – where you can also DITCH THE ADS and get weekly bonus bits, unlock over 70 bits of extra content and support our independent podcast. Join now via Apple Podcasts or Patreon. Thanks!