James O. Page History of EMS Collection

James Owen Page, J.D. (1936-2004)
“widely viewed as the most influential
proponent of emergency medical services,
particularly in fire departments”
-- Los Angeles Times, 2004


About Jim Page

“Jim started his career in emergency services in 1957 as a firefighter in Monterey Park, California. Years later, after a lifetime of service as a publisher, writer, attorney and state EMS director, hew would return to Monterey Park as Chief in the department where he started. That turn of events, however unlikely, seemed typical of Jim, who never let the odds get in the way of a good idea.

“One of his greatest accomplishments—again filled with contradictions—was his lucky (in his words) involvement in the creation of the TV show Emergency!. Jim had a font of stories from those experiences and was forever struck by what he learned about the power of storytelling to entertain and inspire. As the founding publisher of JEMS, the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, that lesson was never lost on him through hundreds of essays, articles and speeches, which usually had a message, but always entertained.

“People came to call Jim ‘the father of modern EMS’ not because he was a researcher or an administrator, nor because he held a position of power in government. It was because he was a promoter of great ideas, and he had the gumption to express these ideas through whatever medium presented itself, be it a TV show, a magazine, a conference, a public meeting, a book, a video, or an official report.

“Jim’s ideas took hold, inspiring thousands and changing the very way in which we thought about how society should care for people in urgent need, without judgment—and always with consideration for those, in Jim’s words, ‘who give countless hours to training and preparation, who forsake opportunities for wealth, who disregard their own convenience and safety caring for ill and injured people.’”

-- Keith Griffiths, James O. Page Foundation (2008)


The following timeline of Page’s career and contributions is based on his curriculum vitae and various biographical and autobiographical sources. He concluded his biographical sketch, which he provided to people who would introduce his speeches and other appearances, with the note, “Mr. Page is a father of four, a grandfather of six, and a collector of vintage fire trucks.”

1957 – 1959

Firefighter, City of Monterey Park (Monterey Park, CA)


Rescue-firefighter in a career fire department.


1959 – 1973

Firefighter, Firefighter-Specialist, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief: Los Angeles County Fire Department (Los Angeles, CA)


Assignments included fire suppression and rescue throughout the county, field supervision/command of a 60-square-mile battalion, and implementation of a county-wide paramedic rescue service.


1965 – 1970

Earns J.D. degree: Southwestern University School of Law (Los Angeles, CA)



Passes California Bar, becomes licensed attorney in California



Appointed to coordinate county-wide paramedic rescue service



Technical consultant and writer (as “James Owens”) for Emergency! television series on NBC


1972 – 1986

Trained and certified as Emergency Medical Technician in California and New Jersey


1973 – 1975

Chief, Office of Emergency Medical Services, State of North Carolina


Implemented state legislature’s plan for a statewide program of emergency medical and rescue services; developed and administered budget and recruited staff to the new agency; negotiated implementation schedules with state and local officials, community groups, fire departments and public safety agencies operating in 100 counties.


1975 – 1976

Executive Director, Lakes Area Emergency Medical Services (Buffalo, NY)


Served as chief administrator of federal-funded project to upgrade and improve emergency services in an eight-county region of upstate New York.


1976 – 1983

Executive Director, ACT (Advance Coronary Treatment) Foundation (Basking Ridge, NJ)


Managed a national non-profit health education organization supported by several pharmaceutical companies.


1979 – 2001

Founder/Publisher, Jems Communications


Founded several newsletter and magazine publications, including JEMS, for fire and emergency services personnel; created EMS Today, an annual series of national fire and EMS educational conferences.


1981 – 1984

Manager, Technical Support Services Program, U.S. Fire Administration (FEMA)


Under contract, administered a national program of consulting services and technical assistance for fire and emergency services agencies.


1984 – 1986

Battalion Fire Chief, City of Carlsbad (Carlsbad, CA)


Chief officer in a career fire/emergency services department.


1986 – 1989

Fire Chief, City of Monterey Park (Monterey Park, CA)


Chief executive of a career fire department and paramedic ambulance service.


Project 51


Volunteer Executive Director of a non-profit project in honor of the 1970s television series, Emergency!, culminating in a national tour and induction of numerous artifacts from the show into the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History

2000 – 2004

Page, Wolfberg and Wirth, LLC


Partner in a national law firm with offices in California and Pennsylvania, specializing in emergency medical services reimbursement and regulatory issues.


Died on September 4, age 68, in Carlsbad, California



James O. Page Biographies, Tributes and Interviews