The Marple Township Ambulance Corps was founded in March 1949 by a group of concerned citizens who realized the need for efficient emergency care in the community. The population of Marple at the time was approximately 2000 residents centered around the “Old Broomall” area in what was still predominately a farming community. However the great migration to the western suburbs had started and the population was growing rapidly. In addition to Marple Township, the Corps also provided service to Newtown and Edgmont Townships.
The first vehicle owned by the Corps was a used Pontiac ambulance that was donated by the Broomall Businessmen’s Association. The ambulance was originally kept in a building owned by George Parker, Sr., one of the founding members of the Corps. This building was located in the area of what is now John’s Auto Body on West Chester Pike. The Corps was headquartered there until the present building at Sproul and Harding Roads was constructed in 1960. In order to keep pace with the growing need, a second ambulance was added in the mid nineteen fifties.
From the beginning, the Corps appealed to the residents of Marple for financial support. In the beginning money was so tight that there were times the crews on a call would scrape together the change they had in pockets to purchase gasoline to keep the ambulance on the road.
From 1949 to 1974 the Corps used the “hearse” type of ambulances. While these vehicles were sleek, there was limited room for patient care. In 1974, the first van ambulance appeared and in 1977 the Corps switched to the “Modular” type of vehicle that we still use to this day. These vehicles provide the room and functionality required for present day emergency medical care.
In order to accommodate the larger and heavier vehicles, the building was structurally reinforced in 1980. In 1995, major changes, both structural and cosmetic were again made to the building to keep pace with the demands of the EMS system now and in the foreseeable future.
From the very beginning the Corps utilized a system of scheduled on-duty crews. Corps members sign up to provide coverage for the primary ambulance twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred sixty five days a year. There is a minimum of two and a maximum of four members to a crew. Coverage for the second ambulance is provided on an as-needed basis. In the beginning, Crops members were summoned to a call by telephone and/or siren initiated by the Marple Police dispatcher. In 1968 the first radio pagers were issued. While these devices provided a little more mobility for members, the first generation of pagers measured twelve inches square by three inches high. In 1985, the next generation of pagers was issued. These pagers are the size we think of today, providing Corps members with a much greater degree of freedom. In 1995, the use of the siren was eliminated completely. Today the Corps has the ability to be dispatched by both the Marple Police Department and the County 911 system.
While the Corps works and trains with the dedicated volunteers of the Broomall Fire Company, we are unique in the fact that we are one of the two (Springfield being the other) volunteer ambulance associations in the county not affiliated with a fire company.