Leonard Cobb Death, Obituary – We are deeply saddened to share the news of Dr. Leonard Cobb’s demise, as he was a pioneer in the field of cardiology. His list of accomplishments is long, but arguably the two that stand out the most are his participation in the founding of the Seattle Medic One paramedic program in 1970 and the development of bystander CPR training for those who are not trained medical professionals the following year.
Both of these programs have garnered praise from people all around the world and have served as motivation for other cities’ fire and emergency medical care departments to model their operations after Seattle’s. The purpose of the Seattle Medic One program is to offer patients with emergency care that is on par with that which they would receive from a professional physician who is present at the scene. Dr. Cobb took notice in the late 1960s of work being done in Europe with cardiac patients prior to their arrival at a hospital that was raising survival rates.
This work was increasing the likelihood of patients surviving their condition. Together with the then-Fire Chief Vickery, Harborview Medical Center, and the University of Washington School of Medicine, he developed a local program in which specially trained firefighters were dispatched to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until the patient could be transported to the hospital for more formal care. This program is still in use today.
Dr. Cobb was always looking for ways to improve patient care, so he decided to focus his efforts on resuscitation after cardiac arrest that occurred outside of a hospital setting. This concentration resulted in the establishment of a tiered response system in the year 1970, the training of the general public in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the year 1971, and the distribution of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) for use by emergency medical technicians in the year 1984.
Recognizing the critical need for prompt response in the event of a cardiac arrest, Dr. Cobb, Fire Chief Vickery, and members of Seattle Rotary #4 founded Seattle Medic Two in 1971 with the purpose of teaching CPR to members of the local community. In an interview with the publication 2020, Dr. Cobb stated, “This was certainly our most important contribution” to the process of establishing Seattle as a pioneer in the field of resuscitation performed outside of hospitals.
To this day, the Medic Two program of the Seattle Fire Department has educated more than one million people in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). After passing over the medical management of the Medic One program to Dr. Michael Copass in 1993, Dr. Cobb continued to be actively involved in clinical research and guaranteeing the continual excellence of patient care provided by the Medic One crews until he was well into his 90s.