The Rose City Experiment

Sometimes there’s a special project, something that has a lasting value, and is worth doing just for doing. For me, that project was the documentary, The Rose City Experiment. The documentary tells the unique story that Portland, Oregon’s private ambulance companies held in the history of advancing emergency medicine.

I was approached by Denise O’Halloran, a paramedic who had previously worked in the private ambulance business. She knew that for women seeking to work as paramedics in the 70’s there were many roadblocks, and those that succeeded had to be very persistent and resourceful. Denise wanted to document this history. When we started interviewing these women we realized that there was a bigger story to tell. This was also the period of time where Emergency Medical Services went from looking up a phone number for an ambulance and being picked up by barely trained crews, to what we consider to be modern EMS and 911 systems of today. This transition happened quickly, but only due to “cowboys” in the system that bucked common thought and pushed through a new normal. And while similar changes were happening in other parts of the country, those efforts were lead by fire departments, in Portland it was private companies that took the lead with the public sector following behind.

In The Rose City Experiment you will hear first hand from the people that were there and lived through the challenges to create a very capable Emergency Medical System. What is taken for granted now, that with a call to 911 trained professionals will come and care for you, was not always the case. You will hear how the change took place and the struggles and successes that came along.

The program is available to rent or buy for instant streaming on

What Others are Saying!

May 21, 2019

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May 1, 2019

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May 2, 2019

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May 6, 2019

T Deckard

Endlessly Persistent

As a follow-up to “The Rose City Experiment” we partnered with and sponsor American Medical Response to bring the women  that were interviewed for the original documentary, plus one special addition, together in a round table discussion to hear their individual and shared stories of starting a career in a field where women were not only absent, but actively denied the opportunity to serve.  

Moderated by Denise O’Halloran, the producer of “The Rose City Experiment” (RCE)  and directed and edited by Pat McAbery who edited RCE, Endlessly Persistent: The Story of America’s First Female Paramedics tells how Portland’s EMS history was very different than other major cities due to the fact that private business lead the way for paramedics in the streets where most cities used their fire departments.  Due to the overwhelming male dominance in the fire service there wasn’t a place for female paramedics except in the private services.  Yet, even those services and in some cases the educational institutions initially resisted the idea that women could work in EMS.

Endlessly Persistent is available to watch for free through

Contact the Producers

To find out more about either of these programs please contact us at 503-622-5629 or at