DETROIT FIRE FAN PRESENTS CITY WITH AMBULANCE AND COMMISSARY
Gift Made in Memory of Mother of Paxton Mendelssohn—Will Pay Upkeep for .Necessary Food and Supplies for Ambulance
A FULLY equipped ambulance and commissary, exclusively for fire department uses, was presented to the Detroit, Mich., department on Tuesday, June 7th, by Mr. Paxton Mendelssohn, a Detroiter and one of the foremost fire fans of that city.
The ambulance, second of kind in the fire service in this country, the first having been presented to the New York Fire Department over four years ago, is a memorial to Mrs. Lydia Mendelssohn, mother of the donor, who in her lifetime was actively engaged in charitable and philanthropic work in Detroit and was noted for her many benefactions toward the poor, the sick and the crippled.
The ambulance was presented with appropriate ceremony in front of the quarters of Engine Co. 17 in the presence of the fire commissioners, the chief and assistant chief of the department, scores of firemen, fire fans and numerous of the city’s officials, including John Lodge, chairman of the Common Council of Detroit, and Act ing Mayor of the City in the absence of Mayor John W. Smith. Mr. Lodge is the granduncle of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, the aviator who flew to Paris from New York.
The ambulance was located at another fire engine house nearby and when Chief Stephen De May summoned it by telephone, it responded under an escort consisting of two motorcycle policemen. and a private car containing Mr. Mendelssohn, his wife and their two sons Paxton Jr. and Louis.
The bus pulled up on the spacious ramp in front of the quarters of Engine 17, where the members of three fire companies stood at attention. In front of them stood the Fire Commission, Messrs Murphy, Clipped, Schaantz and Trendle. Then Mr. Mendelssohn in a brief address, fervently turned over to Mr. Murphy, as president of the Fire Board, a deed of gift, legally executed and containing the grant outright. It provides that Mr. Mendelssohn shall have the right to supply and maintain the equipment and the commissary from year to year. In turning over the ambulance, Mr. Mendelssohn paid tribute to his mother’s memory and told briefly how she was happiest when she was doing something for somebody else. Mr. Murphy, in a few well chosen words, accepted the gift for the Department and Acting Mayor Lodge in accepting it for the City of Detroit, said in part “I have never before participated in a more touching ceremony.”
The ambulance was then formally committed to the care of the chief of department. Chief DeMay extolled the services of Mr. Mendelssohn to the firemen of Detroit and then he in turn passed the ambulance on to Dr. Glenn W. Stockwell with instructions. The ambulance was thereupon placed into active service. After being inspected by numerous persons, it was backed in on the floor of the quarters.
The ambulance was built on a Packard chassis and weighs 5,300 pounds. It is 18 ft. x 4 ft. 2-inches x 5 ft. 3-inches high, with capacity for three stretcher patients. The interior is painted ivory color and in most respects is similar to the New York Fire Department ambulance, excepting that it has the combination features of ambulance and commissary for the dispensing of coffee and food. It it equipped medically from the “A” in adhesive tape to the “Z” in zinc stearate.
It is assigned to respond on second or greater alarms and to such special calls as the proper-authority directs. The ambulance as far as medications and professional equipment go, is under the supervision of three physicians of the Detroit Department, Drs. Stockwell, McMahon and Schulte.
While it is a Packard product mechanically, the bus from the chassis up represents a combination of the minds of Mr. Mendelssohn, the Detroit fire surgeons and Chief Edward Rumsey of the Detroit Fire Department in charge of apparatus and shops.
The panel on the left side of the ambulance has an adjustable window to be used as a slab or counter for serving coffee and food. Mr. Mendelssohn has arranged with the firm of Walker Bros., a Detroit chain restaurant to supply the ambulance with one hundred cups of coffee (five gallons) and such sandwiches, doughnuts, “hot dogs” or “what have you,” as ordered at any time of the day or night in such short notice as a telephone call to any one of fourteen restaurants in the Walker chain. The firemen driving the ambulance will give his name and badge number to the restaurant manager and sign a slip of delivery. The five gallon coffee urn is kept hot by sterno heat.
Each ambulance driver (there are three of whom one is a relief man) has a list of the Walker Bros, stores and telephone numbers. The drivers in addition to being expert motor drivers, are now quite proficient in first aid work, especially resuscitation methods.
It was the writer’s happy privilege to be invited to Detroit to observe the presentation ceremonies and while there I heard only the most glorious praise of the gift. The firemen particularly felt and expressed to me a sense of gratitude to Mr. Mendelssohn for his interest in their welfare, comfort and health.
Commissioner Murphy was especially profuse in his praise. The gift, as far as I could ascertain, was the first major benefaction by a single donor. On all sides one could hear only the most grateful expressions, for in Paxton Mendelssohn the firemen of Detroit have a friend and benefactor. He is president of the “Box 12 Associates” the fire fans club of Detroit, whose burlesque slogan is “Bigger and Better Fires for Detroit.”
A week elapsed before the ambulance had its first case. Strangely enough, the first patient was a fireman in the very engine house where the ambulance is stationed. He is Special Call Fireman Frank Milton of H. & L. Co. 7, which is located under the same roof with Engine Co. 17. Fireman Milton was one of those who on June 7 participated in the inaugural ceremonies at those quarters. He was stricken with acute pneumonia on June 15 in quarters and was rushed to a hospital instantly.
Mr. Mendelssohn happened to be at the fire station at the time and thereby had his first opportunity of acting as the first orderly on the bus, riding with the patient to the hospital.