Which countries have a free ambulance system?

About the foundation

Simply scroll down or select a year in the footer!
On the way home from the swimming pool, Björn Steiger is hit by a car. Passers-by alert the police and the Red Cross immediately after the accident. Even so, it takes almost an hour for the ambulance to arrive. Björn doesn't die of his injuries, he dies of shock.
Little Björn Steiger was 8 years old when he was run over.
Hilda Heinemann, the wife of the elected Federal President, gives her condolences and pledges her support to the grieving parents Ute and Siegfried Steiger - a promise that she kept until her death.
Hilda Heinemann provided the Steigers with important contacts to the federal ministers.
Due to a lack of willingness in politics to create a comprehensive rescue service, Ute and Siegfried Steiger and seven family friends set up the Björn Steiger Foundation as a non-profit organization. The aim is to stimulate the establishment of emergency aid in Germany and then leave this task to the responsible organizations and authorities.
The Steigers initially planned 2 years for the foundation's work.
A family friend, Manfred Kerler, developed the “Steiger star” together with the Steiger couple. The star symbolizes protection and, with its seven unequal rays, flexibility and the will to change.
The number seven is the Steiger's favorite number.
In 1969 almost all taxis had radio communications, but ambulances did not. We offer the districts in Baden-Württemberg to cover a third of the device costs - and thus ring in the nationwide radio communication in German ambulance services. On November 7th, 1969 the first device was presented to the German Red Cross.
By August 15th, 1970 we had handed over 100 radios worth 670,000 DM to the rescue service.
In 1969 a radio cost more than an ambulance!
15 points for emergency assistance
A concern needs the public. With a 15-point program, Siegfried Steiger ultimately calls on the interior ministers of the federal states in an open letter to create the conditions for setting up the rescue service. This is the first time in Germany that a comprehensive program for the development of a functioning emergency aid will be presented to politicians.
The high number of road fatalities was often mentioned by politicians in their Sunday speeches: "Every road fatality is one too many!" But nobody did anything about it.
Even after the open letter to the interior ministers, no position declares itself willing to change anything. This is simply because nobody is responsible for emergency aid. So responsibilities have to be created: We found the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Rettungsdienst Nordwürttemberg" and other specialist committees under the chairmanship of Siegfried Steiger, from which later the "Landes-Rettungsdienstausschüsse" or the "Standing Conference Emergency Services at the Federal Minister of Transport" emerged.
Coins for emergencies
To make an emergency call over a telephone, you needed 20 pfennigs. So that the right change is not missing in an emergency, we initiate symbolic actions with cardboard cards. These contain two 10-pfennig coins and are distributed and hung on public telephones. After the Federal Post Office offered to set up a coin-free emergency number at the beginning of the 1970s, we are again putting pressure on the interior ministers of the federal states.
It was not until 1984 that the coin-free emergency number was decided.
The Federal Ministry of Transport is testing 100 emergency telephones in various federal states, but these refuse to share the costs and the federal government is discontinuing its activity in this direction. That is why we ourselves equip a total of 35,000 kilometers of federal and country roads with emergency telephones.
Most emergency telephones had to have their own main telephone connection, which was billed monthly by the Bundespost at DM 27.50.
With the support of Motor-Presse-Stuttgart, we are financing a fully equipped ambulance so that it can be handed over to a German city. The condition: an emergency doctor must be available around the clock. But no big city wants to meet this requirement. The city of Stuttgart only organizes an emergency doctor service after the media has reported it. That was the start for the German 24-hour emergency doctor system.
Stuttgart mayor Klett was initially unable to guarantee a crew: "Give me a new garbage truck, it costs just as much!"
The highways built after the war do not have an emergency call system. The Federal Ministry of Transport is thinking about dismantling the unused systems on the pre-war highways. In a detailed discussion, Siegfried Steiger convinced Federal Transport Minister Georg Leber to maintain and re-equip with modern emergency telephones. In addition, we will ensure that from 1973 all new motorways will be equipped with stationary emergency telephones again from the start.
The motorway notification systems were only used for maintenance and were not intended for emergency calls.
Quick help is important - if possible, on the way to the hospital. Until then, the injured were usually only transported by ambulance without a medical facility and without a paramedic. That is why we are handing over an ambulance with full medical equipment to every federal state - the birth of the rescue service in the Federal Republic.
In many federal states it was the very first ambulance. The costs were partly borne by charity records.
The federal government cannot finance the rescue helicopter that has been promised for the greater Frankfurt area - and the ADAC is also revising its financing commitment. That is why we buy the rescue helicopter Christoph 2 ourselves from the proceeds of a charity record and by pledging the Steiger family's house and hand it over to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. One of the most difficult crises at the beginning of civil air rescue has thus been overcome.
Because of supposedly strict weight requirements, they did not want to paint the Steiger star on the yellow helicopter at first. Before handing it over, Siegfried Steiger had the helicopter weighed: It was 82 kilos too heavy. In order to obtain approval anyway, he had the tank reduced in size. As a result, other operators also had their Bo-105 machines weighed: All of them were too heavy! As a result, Christoph 2 was initially the only machine of its kind that had a flight permit.
The nationwide financing of air rescue is not feasible for the federal government. That is why we are responsible for setting up and financing the first civil air rescue organization in Germany: the German Air Rescue Service (DRF).
During the opening of the first air rescue center in Stuttgart, the helicopter is alerted: A serious car accident between Tübingen and Stuttgart.
We are starting the self-financed "Rems-Murr rescue model". As part of this scientific structural analysis, a complete personnel and material calculation for an economically financially viable rescue service is collected for the first time. On March 25, 1974, the model was adopted by the district council and later became a model for nationwide emergency aid. The values ​​calculated at that time are still valid today. As early as 1973 we demand central control centers for several million inhabitants.
With this project, comprehensive emergency aid with a central rescue control center was created for the first time in Europe.
In spring 1973 we introduced the emergency number 110/112 in all local networks of the Deutsche Bundespost in what was then the administrative region of North Württemberg. When the nationwide introduction failed, Siegfried Steiger sued the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Federal Republic of Germany on July 27, 1973 at the Stuttgart Administrative Court for the introduction of the emergency number (AZ: II 139/73). The lawsuit was rejected on September 3, 1973, as expected, but led to widespread public support. On September 20, 1973, the introduction of the emergency number was decided at the meeting of the Prime Ministers with the Federal Chancellor.
The emergency numbers 110 for the police and 112 for the fire brigade and rescue service had existed in Germany since 1956. But only a few large cities had switched them.
Seriously injured, trapped accident victims often had to wait a long time to be rescued at the beginning of the 1970s because the fire brigade's heavy rescue vehicles arrived too late or not at all. In order to be able to rescue trapped accident victims more quickly, we are developing an all-terrain express recovery vehicle (SBW) together with the Stuttgart fire brigade. We finance more than ten of these vehicles.
Today the successors are in use all over the world under the name "Pre-Equipment Cars" (VRW).
Until 1974 the Federal Republic of Germany had the highest infant mortality rate of all industrial nations. The reason: the separation of maternity and children's clinics, which is still practiced in Germany. Problematic transports without medical care often lead to long-term consequences or even death. That is why we are developing and financing the first baby ambulance with an integrated transport incubator. Infant mortality falls in the maternity clinics around Stuttgart by almost 70% in the first year. We financed 14 baby NAWs in total.
Premature babies weighing less than 1,000 grams were "disposed of" back then. Today children under 500 grams have a chance of being born healthy.
The emergency doctor system brings patients to the emergency room quickly, but patient data has to be created there first - the treatment often begins with a delay. In order to gain time, we are developing the first telematics ambulance from which patient data can be transmitted directly to the clinic.
The first field test has to be stopped after 6 months because the Federal Post Office no longer provides the radio frequencies required for it.
As early as 1969, Siegfried Steiger called for a job description for paramedics in his 15-point program. Now we are giving another important impetus for this and are financing the training of a paramedic for the German Red Cross for two years with DM 50,000. More and more professionals are joining.
It was not until September 1, 1989 that the job description "paramedic" was legally regulated.
Emergency doctor vehicle (NEF)
Ideally, the emergency doctor, paramedic and driver of an ambulance are stationed in the same ambulance. If this is not possible, the emergency doctor will be picked up at the clinic after the alarm has been raised. This leads to considerable time delays. That is why we are developing an emergency doctor vehicle (NEF).
On August 25, 1980 in Bonn we gave the four aid organizations ASB (Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund), DRK (German Red Cross), JUH (Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe) and MHD (Malteser Aid Service) a NEF each.
In 1979 we presented the first NEF at the IAA in Frankfurt. Today, NEFs are an integral part of the rescue service nationwide.
Right of way for emergency vehicles
Faster passage and less annoyance from Martin's horns: these are the advantages of the system we have developed for influencing traffic signal systems. Emergency vehicles are therefore faster than with light and sound signaling devices. This system is being tested over the long term with great success in cooperation with the Technical University of Karlsruhe in Winnenden and in cooperation with the Technical University of Berlin in West Berlin.
Unfortunately, today the municipalities have only integrated the cost-effective system into their traffic light systems in individual cases.
The donor and recipient of an organ are often widely separated from one another. In order to bridge the distance as quickly and effectively as possible, we are developing a vehicle with a separate, fluctuation-free cooling unit - the organ transport trolley.
It is not only in the Federal Republic of Germany that we initiate civil air rescue. Together with the DRF, we are establishing the Luxembourg Air Rescue (LAR), which is quickly becoming the organization with the largest number of members in Luxembourg.
Hereditary Grand Duke Henri takes over the patronage of the LAR.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, we signed a contract with the first freely elected government on August 17, 1990 to set up air rescue in the GDR. Our subsidiary DRF and the ADAC are building 11 air rescue centers together with the East German authorities. After reunification, however, the contract is declared null and void and the cooperation is dissolved.
After the federal government found itself unable to organize the air rescue itself a short time later, it commissioned the DRF with the Dresden air rescue center. This is followed by the centers for Zwickau, Greifswald, Chemnitz, Suhl, Bad Berka and Halle in the new federal states.
The first initiative “Fight against cardiac death” failed in 1977 due to resistance from doctors and authorities. After a comparable and very successful campaign in the USA, we will be active again in 2000. The patron is Federal President Johannes Rau. The use of automated external defibrillators, so-called AED devices, has proven to be most effective in the fight against sudden cardiac death. With a purchase guarantee of 3,000 pieces and a deficiency guarantee of 1.5 million euros, we can cut the price for the devices in Germany in half.
For the education of the general public, we give all urban and rural districts a total of 902 life-saving training devices on permanent loan - combined with the obligation to train 20 people on them every month.
Today we are installing AED devices nationwide and teaching seventh graders in resuscitation.
Improved suspension system
We present an active suspension system for rescue vehicles. This innovative system prevents dangerous vibrations and strong oscillations when transporting small patients. The suspension was developed on behalf of and at the expense of the Björn Steiger Foundation.
The first use takes place in the Stuttgart baby ambulance, which will be put into service in December 2003.
"Sani Sanelli" makes the emergency call a "child's play"! Children cannot be trained to be perfect first responders, but they can learn how to act properly in an emergency: stay calm and dial 112 or ask an adult for help. We provide primary schools and kindergartens with teaching materials on the subject of "emergency calls" and "what to do in an emergency" so that correct behavior becomes "child's play". This content is passed on to the children in a playful way via the mascot Sani Sanelli.
Almost every German citizen today has a mobile phone and also uses it for emergency alarms. A new problem arises: the time between the accident and the arrival of the emergency services is longer because many callers do not know their exact location. That is why we are developing a location platform for the rescue control centers (LifeService112), which can determine the location of mobile phones in an emergency, and make this available to the emergency call centers free of charge.
We stopped our activity in this area on December 31, 2016. Necessary changes to the Telecommunications Act are not foreseeable. Currently, only very imprecise emergency locations are possible and not all emergency call centers are technically prepared even for this.
Children and young people deal with the subject of first aid more freely. According to a study by the Rostock University Hospital, 11-year-olds are able to resuscitate an adult.
Our “Rescue goes to school” initiative aims to teach seventh graders in a class how they can save their fellow human beings with classic cardiopulmonary resuscitation. We provide 1 million mannequins to schools nationwide.
On July 2nd, 2014 the school committee of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs decided that resuscitation courses should be part of the seventh grade class.
After 30 months of development and over five million euros in development costs, the world's first holistic baby ambulance system was created: "Felix". Technically optimized areas such as the active suspension system further increase the quality of newborn care and reduce the mortality rate and the risk of late-stage damage. Special regular training courses for the clinic and driving staff round off the holistic system.
As maternity and children's clinics are increasingly being merged, the number of transfer trips is gradually falling. Nevertheless, many clinics today still rely on a special means of transport.
Around 100,000 people still die of cardiac death each year in Germany. It is often forgotten - or suppressed - that it cannot only affect people with heart disease. In order to fight against this enormous number, we are first converting former emergency telephones into AED columns with lay defibrillators. In 2015 we are developing new pillars with AED devices, which we will set up in places with a high number of visitors.

Our project is now called "Heart Safe". We are now equipping entire districts and cities with lay defibrillators and training the population together with local partners in resuscitation.
The People's Republic of China wants to build a modern rescue service based on the German model. As early as 2014, the German government and the Chinese government decided on an action plan for cooperation in health policy.
Now we are commissioned to set up a pilot project for an integrated rescue system in the southern Chinese city of Jieyang (7.5 million inhabitants) in the province of Guangdong.