Symbolism


The Star of Life

The Star Of Life is one of the most highly recognized symbols in the world. Most of us associate the star of life with emergency medical care. The six points of the star represent the six aspects of the EMS system: Detection, reporting, response, on scene care, care in transit, and transfer to definitive care. The snake and staff in the center of the Star Of Life represent Asclepius, the son of Apollo in Greek mythology. Cheron taught Asclepius how to heal the sick and injured. Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, worried that Asclepius could make all men immortal with his powers of healing. To prevent this from happening Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt. How and why did this all come together in what we now know as the Star Of Life?

Leo R. Schwartz, chief of the EMS branch of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, designed the modern Star Of Life in the 1970’s after complaints from the red cross that many ambulance companies and other EMS organizations were using the Omaha orange cross, which was the symbol used by the red cross. Schwartz’s design was an adaptation of the symbol used by the American Medical Association. The Star Of Life was registered as a Certification Mark in February of 1977. The Star Of Life cannot be used by just anyone. Generally you must have some type of association with emergency medical services. It is most commonly seen on emergency vehicles, on the uniforms of EMS personnel, and to indicate emergency medical facilities.

The Maltese Cross

The badge of a fireman is the Maltese Cross. This Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection and a badge of honor. Its story is hundreds of years old.

When a courageous band of crusaders known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the holy land, they encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but a horrible device of war, it wrought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters for the cross. The Saracen’s weapon was fire.

As the crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of the knights were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful, fiery deaths.

Thus, these men became our first firemen and the first of a long list of courageous firefighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow crusaders who awarded each here a badge of honor – a cross similar to the one firemen wear today. Since the Knights of St. John lived for close to four centuries on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea named Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.

The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the fireman who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago. The Maltese Cross is a fireman’s badge of honor, signifying that he works in courage – a ladder rung away from death.