On the 8th May, World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, we celebrate 150 years of Humanitarian Action! Founded by Swiss businessman Henri Dunant following his experience of organizing care for the wounded after the battle of Solferino of 1859, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Relief Societies was established on 17 February, 1863, known today as the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In our countdown to our 150th Birthday celebration this week’s 5 on Friday is all about the history of one of our most iconic and important tools of emergency response – the Red Cross Ambulance! It may have changed a lot in past century and a half but one thing has remained the same – our commitment to bringing lifesaving assistance to everyone in need, wherever or whoever they might be.
CICR: Danish military ambulance, 1878. The 1864 Geneva Convention established a unique distinctive emblem (a red cross on a white background) for ambulances, hospitals and medical personnel. Other emblems were introduced at a later date, in particular the red crescent on a white background.
IFRC. 1919: American Red Cross volunteers carry a Spanish flu victim, 1919. It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 100 million people were killed worldwide, or the approximate equivalent of one third of the population of Europe, more than double the number killed in World War I.
IFRC. An interesting “ambulance” used for transport in Gwalior, India in1928! Nursing and public health were priorities as early as the 20’s and 30’s. Dozens of National Societies established nursing schools, crèches and antenatal care for pregnant women. In 2009, training staff and volunteers in delivering health care services remains a priority.
Former Irish President Douglas Hyde presents new fleet ambulances to the Irish Red Cross in 1940. The Irish Red Cross was established on July 1, 1939 under the Red Cross Act (1938). A provision under this same act stated that each “President of Ireland shall, by virtue of his office, be President of the Irish Red Cross Society”.
CICR: Afghanistan War, 1979-1989. Peshawar, Pakistan, 1982. Patients are transferred to the new ICRC surgical hospital, which opened in June 1981. With 100 beds for Afghan war-wounded patients, it had double the capacity of the former hospital.