The city announced two shows were coming to the Civic Auditorium on consecutive days. Al Hirt, billed as "America's greatest trumpet showman," would perform Feb. 23, followed the next day by Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians.

50 years ago: Fire department takes over city ambulance service

By: 
Feb. 13, 2017

This week in 1967, if you were hit by a car in Jacksonville or were faced with some other emergency, you wouldn’t be picked up by people in white coats.

Your rescuers would be city firefighters.

The change came after two private ambulance operators refused to take police emergency calls because too many people refused to pay for the service, they said.

Fire Department station wagon ambulances and three fire chiefs’ cars were pressed into stop-gap ambulance service by Fire Chief W.A. Jackson Jr. after Duval Ambulance Service and Gateway Ambulance Service ended their response to calls.

“We’ll give the public the best ambulance service they ever had,” said Jackson. “We’ll provide 24-hour ambulance service for police emergencies and we’ve assigned 45 top-notch firemen trained in handling injured persons to fill the need for as long as necessary.”

Emergency calls would be screened through police and fire department stations, he added.

“All the calls were real emergencies, the only kind we intend to handle,” said Assistant Fire Chief James Dowling after the first day of the new plan.

He said one call involved a broken back and another was a 12-year-old boy with a broken leg at a school.

“Luckily, one of the teachers knew first aid and had splinted the child’s clean break with rolled-up newspapers,” Dowling said.

Other calls not considered emergencies went unanswered.

“One woman called for us to transport a cancer patient to a hospital, but we told her that wasn’t a dire emergency,” said Dowling.

• Insurance agent Carl Ogden, who led two unsuccessful attempts to force a recall election of city commissioners and City Council members, announced his candidacy for the state House of Representatives in the Feb. 28 Democratic primary.

Ogden, who lived at 539 Mandalay Road, would run for the seat held by state Rep. Gifford Grange Jr.

“I am running to finish the job thieves and legal technicalities twice hindered me from finishing,” Ogden said.

“I expect to be fighting not only the city machine, but also the whiskey and political barons — and the Duval County Executive Committee, which has given its blanket endorsement to the officials that were elected in the November general election,” he added.

• The city attorney ruled Municipal Judge John Santora Jr. was not within the law when he released two prisoners whom he earlier had sentenced on a number of charges.

The ruling was sought by the City Pardon Board, which had turned down pardon requests for the two and then learned Santora had released them after they paid fines for days remaining on their sentences.

One prisoner was ordered released Feb. 1 after serving 130 of his 190-day sentence. The other was released by Santora on Dec. 5 when he had 154 days remaining to serve.

The first prisoner paid a $50 fine and the second, $300, to gain release.

City Attorney William Madison and City Solicitor Claude Mullis noted Santora was within his power to entertain a motion for a new trial within five days after conviction and act upon the motion within 10 days after conviction.

But neither prisoner’s case involved a motion for a new trial.

The pardon board voted that a letter be written to Santora instructing him to comply with the law and a copy of Madison’s ruling be enclosed.

• The Shell service station at Main and Union streets Downtown had a three-day grand opening celebration.

In addition to S&H Green Stamps, customers who filled their car also would receive 12 king-size bottles of Coca-Cola.

• A developer’s plan to build a 112-unit apartment complex and oceanfront spa won the support of the Atlantic Beach City Commission.

The commission unanimously endorsed a proposal that M.I. Bowen seek a special legislative act to have the site for the project annexed by the city.

The property was east of Seminole Road, between 18th and 19th streets, about two blocks north of the city limits.

Bowen wanted the land brought inside the city limits so he could obtain sewer and water services and police and fire protection.

The commission stipulated the city would not actively aid in the proposed annexation and Bowen would have to pay for any utility lines.

• The Fletcher High School Band Parents Association said it would sponsor the Florida Crown Championship Rodeo on April 14-16 at the Jaycee Stadium in Jacksonville Beach.

James Swope, rodeo chairman, said proceeds would be used to finance the band’s trip to Washington, D.C.

• A truck driver told police two men talked him into withdrawing his life savings from the bank and then won the money from him in a card game.

William Carswell, of 1032 South Shores Road, said one of the men told him he had recently collected $15,000 on his brother’s life insurance policy.

Carswell said he met the con man when he flagged down his truck at Orange and Hogan streets and promised to pay $50 if he could get a ride to a hotel.

The two drove to a hotel on Ashley Street where they met the second man who said he had just arrived from Hattiesburg, Miss.

Soon after the men started playing cards, Carswell lost the $13 he had in his pocket.

The men talked him into taking $2,000 from his bank account and they went to an apartment on Grothe Street to continue the card game and Carswell lost all his money.

The men left the apartment, saying they would return in a few minutes, but did not, Carswell told police.

• R.C. Blanton, Jacksonville’s police chief for less than a week, said higher professional standards would be in the future for officers.

“Tomorrow’s policemen will have to have more education to keep pace with new developments in crime prevention,” he said.

Better utilization of in-service training would be the first step, with officers to attend 15-minute classes when they reported for duty.

“At present, there are no accommodations for men to be seated during these classes, but we have to have more training,” said Blanton.

Speaking to more than 350 of the 390-man force, he also said police officers would be supported in their decisions as long as they remained within the law.

• The International Vacation & Travel Show set an attendance record during its three-day run at the Jacksonville Coliseum.

The show attracted 75,000 people, despite inclement weather on its last day.

“It was fantastic. People showed up smiling in such a rain,” said Bill Lavery, show manager. “You couldn’t stir them with a spoon. You didn’t have to walk, just stand still and the crowd pushed you along.”

It was noted 140,000 people went to the venue during the 10 days of the 1966 Greater Jacksonville Fair, a daily rate much less than that of the travel show.