When the San Francisco City and County hospital moved to Potrero Avenue in 1872, it was far from the city center and patients needing emergency care couldn’t get there in time. The first emergency facility in San Francisco, called the Receiving Hospital, grew from the prison infirmary in the basement of City Hall. This beginning, while perhaps less than auspicious, led to the development of a city-wide Emergency Service.
San Francisco’s ambulance service began in 1895 with one horse-drawn Studebaker wagon. In order to provide medical care as soon as possible, ambulances were staffed with interns from the medical school or (male) registered nurses. The Emergency Service obtained its first vehicle ambulance in 1912, and by 1915, the entire service leapt into the 20th century and converted to motorized ambulances.