Our History

Cumberland Goodwill EMS’ Bariatric System Deployed

Our Ambulance service has over 85 years of rich history spanning back to the first half of the twentieth century. From our humble beginnings as a horse-drawn ambulance in 1921, we’ve been able to grow and provide increasingly diverse services to the same community where we have our roots. Our history can be traced back to the generosity of one particular individual.

On May 10, 1927, Carlisle’s first motorized ambulance was placed in service thanks to the generosity of Mrs. A.F. Bedford. Mrs. Bedford contributed $5,000 to Carlisle Hospital for a sun room addition to the hospital and for a motorized ambulance. This ambulance was housed at the Cumberland Fire Company on East Louther St. The hospital trustees then sold the old horse drawn ambulance to Urie Lutz, a local undertaker, who had also previously contracted with them to transport “former” patients of the hospital away when necessary.

Unidentified unit, 1916 Ahrens-Fox, Buick ambulance, 1927 Dodge ambulance in front of Cumberland Fire Company around 1940.

The housing of the ambulance at the Cumberland Fire Company started the company’s long term relationship with the ambulance service and the running of the ambulance operations gradually changed from the Carlisle Hospital Trustees to the officers of the Cumberland Fire Company, who continued to have a close relationship with the hospital.

On January 21, 1928 a parade was held for “Carlisle’s Community Ambulance”. The ambulance was custom built on the chassis of a Dodge truck for $3,500 by Hoover’s Body Works of York, PA. It was 2-tone gray with the name “Carlisle’s Community Ambulance” painted on its sides. It also had a siren instead of the old style gong.

1954 and 1947 Cadillac ambulances in front of Cumberland Fire Company in 1958.

The Cumberland Goodwill Fire & Rescue Company was created on May 1, 1984 when the Cumberland Fire Company and the Goodwill Fire Company merged at the newly expanded firehouse at 102 West Ridge Street. The Cumberland Fire Company (which had previously been the Borough of Carlisle’s rescue company) also carried over its subsidiary, Carlisle Community Ambulance, as an integral part of the new organization. On October 12, 2000, the organizations name was changed to Cumberland Goodwill Fire Rescue EMS, signaling a unity to the merged company and emphasizing the company’s capabilities and expertise in all three functional areas. The ambulance service in Carlisle continued to operate under the name “Carlisle Community Ambulance” until 2005, when the name Cumberland Goodwill Emergency Medical Services was fully adopted.

Squad 40 (1970 American LaFrance) and ambulances of Rescue Company 40.

On January 1, 2010 the organization once again reorganized. The Fire & Rescue Division consolidated with the Empire Friendship Fire Fighters Association to form Carlisle Fire & Rescue Services, Empire Friendship Firefighters Association, dba. This organization became one of two fire companies in the Borough of Carlisle. This new organization specializes in firefighting, truck operations and rescue services. The EMS division continues under the name Cumberland Goodwill Fire Rescue EMS, dba Cumberland Goodwill EMS.

The EMS organization operates as a combination paid/volunteer EMS company providing services to the Borough of Carlisle, Carlisle Barracks and the surrounding townships. Fully committed to the communities we serve, we’ve grown to meet the needs of our neighbors. This includes basic and advanced life support, bariatric, firefighter rehab, standby, training, sales, and transport services. We’re equipped to help you or your organization stay healthy.

Two of our current fleet of ambulances

Our EMTs and Paramedics are more than happy to help you or a loved one reach any destination quickly, safely, and with the utmost respect for patient privacy. They are well trained for any number of emergency or non-emergency situations. Not only are they capable of taking care of your most important 911 calls, we are also able to transport patients to routine appointments, between hospitals, or when they are being discharged from a hospital back home. Our service includes wheelchair, stretcher, and ambulance transports and can be requested by calling our office during regular business hours.

Should you or a loved one require our special bariatric service, we are able to safely transport both emergency and non-emergency patients with our “TransSafe” ramp system. As mentioned before, our staff firmly believes that respecting a patients privacy is a main priority. Bariatric transports are completed with this and safety in mind. Our QRS unit responds with one of our new and modern ambulances to set up and operate this special service. For local fires and major incidents in the region, we provide a rehab service to other first responders. Our Rehab unit is capable of providing re-hydration, shelter, lighting, and other support services to firefighters and rescue personnel. Rehab 40 is also equipped to serve as a mass casualty response unit with first aid and triage equipment on board.

Ambulance 740 in the spring
Ambulance 740 in the spring

Cumberland Goodwill provides training and sells medical equipment for both the community and local emergency organizations. We are also available to provide “standby” first aid services for your next major event. You can find links to this information throughout our website. Cumberland Goodwill achieved recognition from the PA EMS for Children program at the Master level in 2014, then later was upgraded to Expert level in 2015. In 2015, the company also achieved national accreditation through the Commission on the Accreditation of Ambulance Services, becoming only the 7th agency in the state and one of only about 160 in the nation at the time to have earned such a designation.