In 1969, Dr. J. Michael Criley initiated one of the first paramedic training programs in the country at Harbor General Hospital (HGH). This pilot program was based on research done by Dr. Walter Graf (Daniel Freeman Memorial) on mobile intensive care units and by Dr. Eugene Nagel (University of Miami) on training for firefighters to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
As head of the Cardiology Division, Dr. Criley was interested in the treatment of heart attack patients and was an early advocate for the use of defibrillators in public buildings. He was encouraged by the positive results of treating cardiac patients in the field and felt that emergency medical systems should utilize existing personnel, vehicles and dispatch systems.
With the help of Carol Bebout, Critical Care Unit Nurse at HGH, Dr. Criley began training firefighters to provide a wide range of medical care services at the scene of an emergency.
The first class at PTI was composed of six Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters. Their training focused on the care of the cardiac patient and encompassed 192 hours of classroom training and experience in the emergency department.
Soon after, the curriculum was expanded to include a variety of emergency medical care incidents and classroom instruction increased to 325 hours. A “buddy system” was also initiated, requiring ride-along experience and approval by preceptors before students could assume full, independent duties. By 1972, the number of hours required for certification rose to 1000. In response to the demand for training, the County PTI opened a second temporary paramedic training school at LA General.
For the first few years, the course of paramedic study consisted of texts borrowed from nursing, physicians, and army corps education. In 1974, Dr. Ron Stewart, a bright energetic, physician was appointed as the new director of PTI. Dr. Stewart, originally from Canada, completed his residency program in Emergency Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) and worked in the LA General’s emergency department. His first objective as the program’s Medical Director was the modification of the training curriculum and materials. The resulting four-volume book, called the Paramedic Training Manuals, focused on specific field care, using pictures, terminology and examples that were suitable to the firefighters’ background. This text was soon used as the basis of the core paramedic curriculum in paramedic programs nationwide.
In 1995, PTI affiliated with El Camino Community College District and enhanced its standing as an academic program. Through this new partnership, PTI was able to provide 32 college units to each graduate, accept private students sponsored by El Camino College, reduce the cost of tuition to the student/employer, and offset program costs.
PTI continues to be one of the most innovative and recognized EMS training programs in the world. It is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). PTI’s mission is to provide paramedic students with the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective skills necessary to provide the highest quality care to patients in the prehospital setting.
Dr. Ron Stewart
Dr. Ron Crowell
Dr. William Koenig
Dr. Frank Pratt
Dr. Samuel Stratton
Dr. John Celetano
Dr. Marianne Gausche-Hill
Dr. David Persse
Dr. Lee Nelson
Dr. Cesar Aristeiguieta
Dr. Richard Zoraster
Dr. Scott Youngquist
Dr. Clayton Kazan
Dr. Anita Vishwanath
Dr. Nichole Bosson
Dr. Shira Schlesinger