Taking a trip into the early days of EMS may be just a mouse click away soon.
A group of EMS officials from across the country are establishing a virtual museum that will feature pictures, interviews and documents.
The National EMS Museum Foundation Inc. also is in the process of becoming a tax-exempt organization.
"When people think of a museum, they think about a building. That's not what this is. You won't have to worry about parking..." said Lou Jordan, a longtime Maryland EMS official and foundation board member.
While concepts are being considered, Jordan said one possibility involves the Star of Life with various rooms or displays off the points.
In addition to the virtual museum, organizers are working on a traveling display. "When there's a trade show, we'd invite people to bring their artifacts to show. They would be able to share their collections."
The concept has been well-received, and people have already contacted the group, said Jules Scadden, secretary.
"This way the items stay with the owners. We don't have to be concerned about a storage building," she said. "There's a lot of passion out there for the project."
Officials are hoping to get the virtual site up and running in the next six to eight months, and the traveling show next year.
EMS providers are encouraged to get involved in the project. "This has to stay at the street level. We need input."
The National Association of EMTs is backing the concept, and believes the effort is long overdue, said Bob Loftus, NAEMT secretary and member of the museum foundation.
Loftus said at NAEMT there's been an ongoing discussion about establishing a museum for some time. He's impressed with the recent activity and involvement.
Katharine Rickey said the foundation has no intention of putting other EMS museums out of business. "We want to help them. We are not competing with anyone."
Ms. Rickey, the curator, said she's been busy learning what it takes to display and preserve collections. "It's important that we document the ownership of things, especially pictures. We have to be very careful to make sure we don't violate copyrights."
Although the process is time consuming, she said it's the only way the museum can operate. "We have to know that we stand on solid, legal ground before we take the artifact or picture. Has it been a long process, yes. But, it's well worth it."
She said she's grateful for the assistance and tips received from other curators. The New Hampshire paramedic is pleased with the progress.
Kevin Agard, who has volunteered to serve as webmaster, said a virtual museum is the best avenue. "In addition to pictures, we're also interested in getting oral histories about some of the pioneers in EMS."
Agard said it's important to capture historical tidbits before they disappear.
Scott Cravens, EMS Magazine publisher and museum steering committee member, added, "As a relative newcomer to this industry, the passion of this group is inspiring and contagious. I am very impressed with the dedication of the individuals on the committee and their tireless effort.
We are at a critical point in history when you consider this industry will soon be over a generation away from it's inception, so if we don't act now to collect and document the stories that gave it birth, they will be lost forever."