The early years1881-1917
The first “rescue station for giving first aid in emergencies” in Tallinn, was founded on the 27th of April, 1883. The archives do not tell much about it. On June 14, 1918 a round-the-clock rescue station was opened, situated in nowadays Tallinn Central Hospital. In 1922, a patient transport ambulance started operating in Tallinn. The ambulance used by Tallinn Central Hospital was a gift from the American Red Cross and it was apparently needed quite often.
The most important organization in that period to give first aid in our country was the Estonian Red Cross, founded in Tallinn on February 24, 1919. The Transportation Department of the same organisation is the forerunner of nowadays Tallinn Emergency Medical Service, in Estonian, Tallinna Kiirabi. In the summer of 1919, the Estonian Red Cross received a gift – 7 ambulances – from the British Red Cross. A few years later an ambulance with modern equipment was bought for the city of Tallinn. By the year 1929, two such vehicles were running. Beside that the Transportation Department owned also two smaller cars and a lorry. Patients with infectious diseases were transported with a special vehicle belonging to Infectious Diseases´ Hospital. About 1500 calls per year were made. A glaring contrast with the 85000 patients we help per year nowadays. The ambulances drove over 15 000 kilometres a year on bad-condition roads of Tallinn and neighbourhood areas. Besides simply transportation of sick people, ambulances started to run to emergencies. A highly educated nurse was sent to emergency calls to give medical help on the scene and if needed, organize transportation to the hospital. If there was a victim, dead in emergency, the transportation of the body was also a task for ambulances. The patients who died after illness were not transported by ambulance. In case of an emergency the ambulance call was free of charge.
Ambulance Service in Tallinn between two World Wars in Estonian Republic1918-1939
After WW I the most important organization to give the first aid was the Estonian Red Cross, founded on February 24, 1919 in Tallinn. In summer 1919, the Estonian Red Cross received a present – 7 ambulance cars- from British Red Cross. Because of wartime they were taken over by Armed Farces Supplies Department. After the Independent War, when peace was made between Estonia and Russia, the ambulances were brought back, but 5 of them had to be sent to repair shop immediately. In summer 1922 an ambulance present by American Red Cross was running quite often in Tallinn. A leading newspaper „Waba Maa“ writes on October 8, 1922 that since the 21-th of September 1922 a transportation department for sick and injured people is operated by the Central Board of Estonian Red Cross. By year 1929 two modern ambulances was bought for the City of Tallinn.Patients with infectious diseases were transport with special vehicle owned by the Infectious Diseases Hospital. All together about 1500 calls per year were made and ca one third of them free of charge. Besides ordinary transportations of sick people, ambulances started to run to emergencies. A highly educated nurse was sent to emergency calls to give medical assistance on the scene. In case of emergency the ambulance service was free. During public festivals with remarkable amount of spectators, the ambulances were sent out to organize points of medical service.
Ambulance Service in Tallinn during the years of Soviet occupation1940—1941
The first decrees of Soviet regime didn’t touch Estonian Red Cross too much. The Board continued with same people and under its previous name. But the decree of the Supreme Soviet “About nationalizing of private medical establishment” dated October 7, 1940 became probably the breakpoint. On November 29, 1940 another document about reorganizing Estonian Red Cross was issued. Since March 7, 1941 the Commissar of Healthcare signed the order no. 111 about handing the properties of Red Cross Ambulance Station on to Departent of Healthcare of Tallinn municipality. Officially the Station was opened on April 1, 1941. Under the local government all hospitals in Tallinn had to report daily on their free beds to the Station. 5 doctors and 6 sanitars started their work on ambulances. There were 9 ambulances: 1 REO; 2 Chevrolets; 2 Renault; 4 soviet GAZ. On the June 22-Th the WW II began and some ambulances were pulled away by soviet military authorities. 4 ambulances were left for local needs when on September 28, the German troops arrived.
Ambulance service during German occupation1941-1945
United Aid of Estonia (UAE) was the organization playing a leading role during German occupation. UAE took over many functions of the Estonian Red Cross, including arranging medical ambulance service. 4 ambulances were ready to respond in case of a bombing alarm. In 1943 2 head nurses, 5 staff nurses and 10 drivers were working at the ambulance station. They were supported by a small team of technicians who took care of the ambulances and equipment. The bombing of Tallinn on March 9, 1944 was fatal to the station as well. Local headquarters and garages were destroyed. As all ambulances were on the road, none of them were damaged.
Years after World War II1945-1991
On September 22, 1945 Soviet troops were back in Tallinn. According to a source, there was only one ambulance responding on 1220 calls that year. In 1947 the station owned 5 ambulances unfortunately only 3 were working. The total calls a year grew rapidly in that time, to more the 7000 a year. In that period there was an outpatient clinic in the rooms of the station. Because of a lack of garage area, ambulances had to stand outside, side by side, which causes problems with driving out but it also gave complaints from patients and their relatives. In winter, ambulances were iced from the inside. In 1950, 16 physicians, 14 nurses, 10 caregivers and 10 drivers were working at the station. Most of the physicians were Russians and educated in Russia. Nurses, caregivers and drivers were Estonians. In 1956 the ambulance station moved in a new location, a beautiful Jugendstil villa in the center of Tallinn. At that time the station had 12 ambulances, all Soviet origin. Detail is that only 9 of them were in working order. It was a period with constant problems, ambulance vehicles were broken for too long periods and arrived mostly too late. It seems over more then 100 people worked for the ambulance station early sixties. Since 1960 Tallinn ambulances have radio stations on board. In these years average rate of calls a day was 25 per unit. In 1972 units were equipped with a physician for cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. In the stations, a children first aid and an emergency department were created. On November 15, 1976 a new ambulance station was opened near Mustamäe Hospital. Rate of calls raised up to more then 118 000 a year. 5 paediatric units were taken care of an average of 80 calls a day.
Independent Emergency Medical Services in independent Estonia1991-...
On September 19, 1990 the idea of an independent City Emergency Service was accepted, the later Tallinna Kiirabi (Tallinn Emergency and Medical Service). 122 physicians, 145 nurses, 39 caregivers were working for this Emergency Medical Service. On January 18, 1993 the Estonian Union of Emergency Medical Services was founded. From that moment a new level of training and education for paramedics started. The Training Center of Tallinn Emergency Medical Services started working on April 28, 1997. Since then our total organisation, including this Training Center, grew to more then 330.