Los Angeles Ambulance Warriors of the 1980's | Documentary Idea

by Dale J Bingham
(Dewey, AZ)

The 1980's in Los Angeles were dangerous times for medical crews, culminating in the 1992 Rodney King riots. But what many do not know or understand are the Adams Ambulance Warriors (at the time the largest ambulance service in LA County) who, like myself worked for minimum wage (my first wage in 1987 was $3.32 an hour) yet blazed around gang-infested streets in South Central Los Angeles and East LA.

They/we worked A/B shifts, unlike the firefighters who worked A/B/C shifts with 4 days of each week and instead we were were required at measly pay to work one of two shifts, for example mine was 24 hours of sleepless nights on duty every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and then a required double every other Sunday and due to the size of the company if you were at a busy station your chance of being "held over" for another 24 hours - and you did not get your day off the next day so you worked 3 sometime 4 24 hour, no sleep shifts in a row and we were driving lights and sirens in some of the worst traffic in the nation on no sleep.

But we did it. We traded the excitement and experience for low pay and dangerous streets and hours. It's an untold story few know.

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Jul 07, 2023
Scudder's Ambulance
by: Terrence Jones MD

I spent some time with Scudder's Ambulance in the early 80's. Laguna Beach and San Juan Capistrano mainly as an EMT. I was going to UC Irvine at the time. I took some time away from college to attend Daniel Freeman Paramedic School in 1984 and worked 3 years at Cole-Schaeffer Ambulance in Los Angeles while I completed my studies. I began medical school at the University of Pittsburgh in 1988, where Ron Stewart, the author of our LA County Paramedic Training materials had taught. After Pittsburgh I returned to California and completed an internship in Surgery and a residency in Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego. I have now been on the Big Island of Hawai'i for for 27 years. I'm recently retired from clinical ED shifts, but I continue to work for the department of health as the EMS Medical Control Officer for my island. Seeds planted in the early 80's have grown to fruition. Craig Scudder was a lousy employer, but the opportunities provided to me were not wasted.

Jul 02, 2022
80’s premed worked Adams and Scudders Ambulance Services in South Gate and Laguna Beach
by: William Martin

Worlds apart areas: gangs vs well-to-do beach goer’s. I remember a lot of calls and kept a journal of sone. If I don’t have ptsd, it’s a miracle. I remember a guy stabbed through the heart talking just like a regular day ‘one minute’, and ‘dead the next’. Mouth-to-mouth at a Trabuco Canyon rock concert also stabbed, the alcohol reeked from his breath, his tongue flopping into my mouth while we tried to save him. So many more stories. We were told "don’t go into Watts without s police escort! We didn’t.

Apr 11, 2019
Ambulance Driver Extraordinaire...
by: Renny Jones

I have many stories, good & bad, from working for several different ambulance companies, such as Adams, Schaffer, APT, Goodhew, Allen, Tri-County & Miller (Kern County), Professional & Snyder Ambulance. I do have some photos also...

It was definitely an integral part of my life for sure... Let me know if I can help with your documentary.

Oct 31, 2018
South gate nights & Full Moon
by: Ryan C.

I remember pulling up in the driveway in my truck and introduce my self and that i was assigned to get some experience working around these guy's let alone the areas. This was my first emt cert in 1984 or so. The base station spoke all by it's self and the fridge too. The guys i'by trained by are damm good but that god damm jump seat really sucked after being back there after 4hrs fuck i think my back still hurts from being back there. Well i stayed for a double shift and got introduced to paramedic guy's from other stations and boy i got screwed with but not that bad "the new guy"and they even shook my hand with a smile but i learned a lot in 16hrs.I wishfor pictures but lost them along the way, it was the best time of my life.

Jun 13, 2014
by: Desktop Documentaries

Hi Dale, Thanks for submitting your documentary idea and thanks for your brave service! By chance do you have any personal home movies or photos that could serve as the visuals for this story?

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