Roger Talbot started in the ambulance business as an as-needed ambulance driver in the mid-1950s. Local funeral homes would allow their hearses to be used as modified ambulances during down-time. Roger was summoned at home or at his full time job (a local Ford dealership) by phone and would drive to the funeral home to pick up the "ambulance."
Calls for an ambulance response would come in to the funeral homes directly from the public. They would typically be either critical emergencies or patients that could simply not be moved by any other means. Patient "trip cards" from the time (usually 3 x 5 cards) were heavily stacked with car accidents with catastrophic damage unimpeded by seatbelts and airbags, cardiac arrests and work-related trauma.
In those days, simple accidents and treatable illnesses often had dire consequences. Imagine the isolation and fear as a victim of illness or injury or as a family member or bystander in those days. There was no assurance that any person with skill or ability or the means to transport a patient would arrive in a timely fashion or at all. When they did arrive, it was often in a hearse, which could hardly be comforting.
According to Roger, doctors and nurses performing house calls would regularly express surprise that it took the ambulance just 30 minutes to arrive. Roger knew then that he was providing a vital service, even if there was little sophistication. He knew that shorter response times and reliable service was something that his friends, neighbors and townspeople needed.
Manchester Ambulance (as it was originally known) was founded in 1959 by J. Stewart Johnston, Thomas Carpenter and Roger Talbot Sr. The group would respond from a local auto dealership, providing medical transportation to the community in a single hearse-style ambulance.
In 1969, as requests from the public gradually increased, Roger split-off from the other founders, hired employees, bought more ambulances and moved into a three-bay garage at 134 East Center Street.
Manchester Ambulance's territory slowly expanded to include East Hartford and Bolton. Service to other towns and convalescent homes was a regular occurrence and, being that medical transportation was relatively unregulated, it was all quite informal. During the 1960s and 70s training requirements for ambulance workers slowly developed, including the proliferation of CPR and the need for First Aid training.
The TV show Emergency! brought EMS into the spotlight and services spread across the U.S. Citizens demanded that they get the same level of emergency service that they saw on TV, including field care by a new provider called a paramedic. The first communities to get such service were in southern California, Florida and Cape Cod.
The first paramedic class in the Hartford area was held in the early 1980s. In 1983, South Manchester Fire Department, as it was then known, put into service its first Paramedic Unit. The Town of Manchester Fire-Rescue-EMS, as it is now known, celebrated 25 years of paramedic service in 2008.
Regional paramedic service was provided by Manchester Ambulance, which became the Ambulance Service of Manchester (ASM). Metro Wheelchair Service was formed to serve the transportation needs of the areas' disabled. ASM continued to grow and was known for being patient care oriented, cost conscious, intensely prudent and for having loyal employees that stayed for decades.
In the mid 90's ASM partnered with another historic and renowned company, Aetna Ambulance Service, Inc., from the south-end of Hartford. The three companies, including Metro Wheelchair Service, remain sister companies in proud service until today.