How Did the Ambulance Get its Name, What Does it Mean in French, and Where Did the Word Hospital Come From?

The French began treating wounded soldiers in the field in 1809 by bringing the hospital to the injured.

Those who could walk or be carried on a stretcher were taken to a tent or field hospital and treated immediately.

The French verb for to walk is ambulare, which gave us the English word amble.

In 1242 the word hospital, like hospitality, first took the meaning of “a shelter for the needy” and began referring to an “institution for sick people” in 1549.

So the literal translation of ambulance is “a place to which the needy can walk or be carried.”

During the Crimean War in the mid-nineteenth century, the term ambulance was transferred to horse-drawn vehicles that for the first time conveyed the wounded from the field to the hospital.

Canada’s first hospital was a “sick bay” at Port Royal in Acadia between 1606 and 1613. It was run by two male attendants from the Order of St. Jean de Dieu.

Canadian doctor Norman Bethune (1890-1939) introduced delivering blood to the battlefield using a battered old station wagon during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

He improved his battlefield ambulance service while in China, where he died himself from septicemia contracted during the course of his work as a surgeon.

On the human hand the middle finger is exactly as long as the hand is wide.

Of the 206 bones in the human body, one-quarter of them are in the feet.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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