How Pittsburgh’s Freedom House Pioneered Paramedic Treatment

MARCH 01, 2015

In the 1960s, Pittsburgh, like most cities, was segregated by race. But people of all colors suffered from lack of ambulance care. Police were the ones who responded to medical emergency calls.

"Back in those days, you had to hope and pray you had nothing serious," recalls filmmaker and Hollywood paramedic Gene Starzenski, who grew up in Pittsburgh. "Because basically, the only thing they did was pick you up and threw you in the back like a sack of potatoes, and they took off for the hospital. They didn’t even sit in the back with you."

Ambulances existed, but they were privatized and didn’t offer emergency care or go everywhere.

That changed with the start of the Freedom House Ambulance Service, the city’s first mobile emergency medicine program. Starzenski tells the story in his documentaryFreedom House Street Saviors.

The service became the national model, but it started out by serving Pittsburgh’s mostly black Hill District. Nowadays, the Hill District is famous because of its prominence in playwright August Wilson’s work. In the 1960s, like many city neighborhoods, it teemed with racial unrest.

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**Also. I have met with representatives from the Freedom House, including some OGs from the FH and this was a HUGE race issue. Black neighborhoods were especially hard hit and police responded very slow or not at all to calls in those places. The article kind of ignores that lol

Leonard Nimoy, most famous for his depiction of Spock in Star Trek died on Friday. In honor of his life and work, here are some images of him from our collection.

Pittsburgh Press, November 16, 1975

Nimoy starred in the 1975 inaugural season of the Pittsburgh Public Theater, playing Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. This play was a success and got a lot of attention due to his prior role playing Spock.

Biography from program for Twelfth Night.

Here are some images of Nimoy in his most famous role, on the cover of Star Trek comic books.

March 1970.

November, 1975

-Nick Clements, Graduate Student Employee

Pittsburgh comics makers,

In the spirit of making our energies in the Pittsburgh comics scene more visible and to continue promoting the Salon we’d like to put together a Pittsburgh Comics Sampler.

The goal of this sampler is for it to showcase the work that is coming out of Pittsburgh in 2015. The sampler will be given away for free to attendees at PIX, the Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo on March 28th. It’s going to be a quick little production, full of energy and soon to be in hundreds of people’s hands! We’d love to have comics by all of you in here for all to see the richness of the comics making community that we have here in Pittsburgh.

If you’d like to be part of this publication, you’ll get a 2 page spread all to yourself. You can contribute old comics pages or make some new work for this publication. We’ll need two 8.5” x 11” black and white, 600 dpi .TIFF files from you.

Here are the details:
What: A fresh half-tabloid digest anthology of current Pittsburgh comics makers.
Who: Any and all comics makers living in the greater Pittsburgh Area.
Maximum Page Submission: 2 pages each.
Resolution: 600 dpi
Color Mode: B&W
Bleed: Pages will NOT be full bleed.
Preferred File Format: Bitmap TIFF
Final page size: 8.5 x 11 ” (draw accordingly.)
Deadline: Saturday March 14th

Pittsburghers, we’d love to have as many of you involved as possible! Let us know if you have any questions. You can send a direct message on tumblr or you can email:

Deadline: Saturday March 14th

Pittsburgh man writes police chief after witnessing police brutality and seeing immediate coverup

Earlier this week Pittsburgh, PA resident Samm Hodges bore witness not only to an extreme case of police brutality, but the quick coverup and lies that police often spin to cover their tracks. So disturbed by what he saw, he wrote this letter to the Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay, who became a viral hit himself after holding up a sign stating that white silence to racism needs to end.

Today, I saw something which horrified me. I work downtown at First and Market. I was leaving with a friend of mine to get coffee when we saw and heard sirens. Suddenly, a young black man who I now know as Devon Davis ran within yards of us, being chased by police officers with guns drawn. He was almost immediately tackled by between 6 and 12 officers. A whole swarm, I didn’t count.
But then, as he lay pinned to the ground, the officers began beating him viciously with batons while yelling to ‘stop resisting.’ He wasn’t resisting, and he kept saying ‘I’m not doing anything.’ They beat him for a long time and when they were done, he was laying in a pool of his own blood with what news reports say is a broken leg. I was only 30 yards away. The had to carry him to the police van.
The official statement from the office of Public Safety is quoted in the Post Gazette and Trib Live says that “they found him severely injured in a pool of blood.”
That’s completely not true. He was tackled and then beaten severely while pinned to the ground by a whole swarm of officers. I saw him running very quickly, his leg was not broken prior to being tackled. Then he was tackled and beaten viciously in the legs. Then he had to be carried away. There was no blood on the ground where he had been running before. He had no limp before.
I know that you won’t stand for this kind of dishonesty and brutality. I’m very shaken up by what i saw, and I lost a lot of respect for the men and women I trust to keep me and my family safe. Please make this right. I am willing to testify or do whatever it takes to see justice is served.
Thank you in advance for handling this situation with justice and thoughtfulness.
Samm Hodges

A video and more photos are forthcoming.