Fact check: Image falsely claims to show world's first ambulance

·3 min read

The claim: An image shows the world's first ambulance

An old hoax about the world's first ambulance is once again making the rounds on social media.

A viral image on Facebook shows a sepia-toned image of a man riding a long bike with a covered cot.

"World's first ever ambulance service in 1830," reads text in the July 25 post from the page History Lovers Wall.

Over the years, the same image has been shared to Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter and various meme pages. But the photo is actually from 1941, and ambulances existed well before that.

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USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook page that shared the post for comment

Photo is from 1941

Independent fact-checking organizations have reported that the photo circulating online was taken July 29, 1941, during World War II.

"A one-man anti-gas ambulance and resuscitator, designed and made for use by the Home Guard," reads the caption of the original photo from Getty Images.

The Home Guard was a civilian militia that formed in the United Kingdom in 1940. It was responsible for supporting the British Army by protecting coastal areas and factories from invasion, according to the U.K.'s National Archives.

Embed from Getty Images

There are conflicting reports on when the first ambulance was created. But battlefield ambulances, hospital carriages and medical wagons existed before World War II.

According to the books "Disaster Medicine" and "EMS: A Practical Global Guidebook," the earliest recorded use of an ambulance was in 1487 during the Siege of Malaga in Spain. Injured soldiers were carried with a wagon to large tents for safety.

In the 1700s, Dominique-Jean Larrey, a French military surgeon, introduced field hospitals, ambulance services and first-aid practices to the battlefield.

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Photos show horse-drawn ambulances were used in the late 1800s to transport sick or wounded soldiers. According to a report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, clergymen and doctors started using bicycles and automobiles in the 1870s.

Our rating: False

The claim that an image shows the world's first ambulance is FALSE, based on our research. The image was taken in July 1941, not 1830. Ambulances existed centuries before World War II.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Viral photo does not show the world's first ambulance

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