Robert Forbuss was an EMS advocate, speaker, author, leader and pioneer known for promoting EMS, EMS careers and high-quality private and public ambulance services. He died in August after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 64.
Janet Smith, a former Mercy Ambulance employee and colleague of Forbuss’ says, “The Bob Forbuss story is about how a man in an emerging new healthcare service in the 1970s, leveraged his company’s position in a growing Nevada metropolis to open political and strategic access to the power structure of the city and county his company served.”
Co-founder and subsequent president of the American Ambulance Association (AAA), Forbuss presided over the National Showcase for EMS in Washington, D.C. He served on the AAA committee to institute the process for ambulance accreditation from which the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) was formed. Jay Fitch, PhD, founding partner of Fitch and Associates, LLC, reflects, “He was my second private client, the best thing that could happen to a young consultant. Energetic and passionate, I came to admire his leadership.”
Forbuss served as the industry’s spokesperson during the national Ford ambulance crisis and was named EMS administrator of the year at the EMS Today Conference & Exposition in 1988 for his work during that crisis. Forbuss coordinated the ambulance and walking wounded components at the 1980 MGM Grand and 1981 Hilton high-rise hotel fires, an effort JEMS founder James O. Page described as a “command performance.”
Smith reflects, “Who knows how many have lived to see another birthday, a graduation or a grandchild’s first steps because of him, his influence, his care in countless cities and towns throughout America and especially in those communities where CAAS Accreditation is the benchmark. He will be missed.” —Mike Ward, EMT-P