The Pan-Am Ambulance
What happened to the man who was likely the first motorized ambulance driver?
The Pan-American Exposition Ambulance1
Dr. Nelson Wilson, Sanitary Officer of the Pan-American Exposition, wrote in "Details of President McKinley's Case", in the October 1901 issue of Buffalo Medical Journal that
"The dash (of the ambulance) to the hospital was thrilling and sensational. Mr. F. T. Ellis, who was driving the motor vehicle, handled the steering bar with the utmost skill; no chauffeur however skillful, however expert, ever drove an automobile with more speed and with more wisdom through dangerous places than did Ellis, who is a third-year medical student of the University at Buffalo. The crowd was dense along the route to the hospital and yet, although the machine was driven at top speed, there were no accidents. Inside lay the Chief Magistrate of the United States, carefully attended by Dr. G. McK. Hall and Mr. E. C. Mann, the latter a senior medical student on the staff of the medical department of the Pan-American Hospital."
While Frederick T. Ellis, or "Fred T.", is listed in the 1901 medical school yearbook, no reference is made in subsequent issues. The 1915 and subsequent alumni catalogs also do not list Mr. Ellis, suggesting that no degree was conferred. Also, a check of national medical directories from the period did not find Mr. Frederick Ellis listed as a practicing physician. Mr. Ellis was listed as a Niagara Falls resident active in the Athletic Association, football team and Alpha Omega Delta fraternity.
Mr. E. C. Mann, senior medical student on the staff of the medical department of the Pan-American Hospital attended President McKinley in the ambulance to the Emergency Hospital.
1. The original photograph of this ambulance is held in the archives of the Buffalo General Hospital and was reproduced in Another Era : A Pictorial History of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University at New York at Buffalo, 1846-1996, Ronald Elmer Batt, et. al., contributors, Virginia Beach, VA : The Donning Company, 1996.