As an organization founded by a Black American, the Volunteer Medical Service Corps holds high regard for the legacy and contribution to America by Black residents throughout history
For perhaps the longest-serving emergency medical services organization across the U.S., the Volunteer Medical Service Corps, history is embedded in everything the organization accomplishes.
But even after countless lives saved and a legacy dating to the ’30s, the organization continues to recognize the historic efforts of their founder Frank Erdman Boston, a Black American, during Black History Month.
“Dr. Boston is a true American hero who did not seek fortune or fame but instead sought to contribute to his country and contribute to his community,” said administrative manager Bryson Schroeder. “Dr. Boston volunteered and served in WWI, returned to Philadelphia to operate a British and American War Veterans clinic, and settled in Montgomery County.”
Boston is credited with starting both a hospital and the ambulance corps, which remain in operation today.
“What is arguably the longest-serving emergency medical service in the nation, the Volunteer Medical Service Corps of Lansdale, was organized by Dr. Boston in 1933,” said George Whitehair, Boston Legacy Foundation executive director.
Whitehair has written and spoken about Boston throughout the region and will be a featured speaker during an online panel discussion at 3 p.m. Feb. 25 presented by Bucks County Community College, Bucks County Commissioners and The Boston Legacy Foundation.
Whitehair said Boston is a local hero and was active in the community until he died in 1960.
“Boston was the VMSC commander and took a leading part in all its activities until he died,” he said.
Ahead of his time, Boston was a pioneer of pre-hospital care and transportation in Montgomery County, some four decades before major EMS systems would be established throughout the country.
And during his tenure, he achieved several significant accomplishments.
“They were there in 1936 in Lock Haven when the rivers flooded,” Whitehair said. “VMSC was called upon to help the flooded communities. VMSC, under Dr. Boston’s leadership, led the rescue effort, which resulted in hundreds of lives being saved.”
“Dr. Boston also served as the medical doctor on emergency ambulance runs. His work included a life-saving surgical operation in a farmhouse at night where generators were used for light.”
He said his role as a community leader was directly tied to his military service.
“There is no doubt that he used his wartime experiences, as bad as they were, to bring about significant and positive changes to his community,” Whitehair said.
But while the VMSC reflects on Boston’s legacy and the organization’s accomplishments, their development is ongoing.
“Today, VMSC provides state-of-the-art technology, highly skilled paramedics and EMTs, and a modern fleet of ambulances answering nearly 8,000 calls per year,” Schroeder said. “Here was a black doctor who served his country proudly and brought back those battlefield experiences to launch a hospital and ambulance corps, both of which exist today, long after he died in 1960.”