Frank Pantridge

Professor James Francis “Frank” Pantridge (1916-2004)

Professor James Francis “Frank” Pantridge (1916-2004) was a Northern Irish cardiologist and widely regarded as the father of emergency medicine.

Pantridge suggested that most coronary deaths resulted from ventricular fibrillation within one hour of the onset of symptoms and usually outside of the hospital. To reduce prehospital coronary deaths Pantridge designed a ‘portable’ defibrillator from a mains operated machine charged by two 12-volt car batteries through a static invertor. He recommissioned a discarded ambulance and employed Dr John Geddes and an ambulance driver to respond to phone calls from GP’s in the community.

…it has been shown perhaps for the first time that the correction of cardiac arrest outside hospital is a practicable proposition

  • Born on October 3, 1916  Hillsborough, Northern Ireland
  • 1939 – Graduated BM in medicine, Queen’s University of Belfast
  • WWII – Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC); PoW 1942
  • 1945 – Awarded the Military cross for gallant and distinguished services in Malaya in 1942
  • 1946 – MD, Queen’s University of Belfast
  • 1946 – University of Michigan, he worked with FN Wilson a leading authority on electrocardiography
  • 1950 – Consultant cardiologist, Royal Victoria Infirmary Belfast
  • 1969 – Officer of the Order of St. John (OStJ)
  • 1974 – Fellow of the American College of Cardiology
  • 1979 –  Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
  • Died 26 December 2004

Medical Eponyms
Pantridge defibrillator (1965)

First ‘portable’ defibrillator operated from car battery and weighed 70kg – using a miniature capacitor manufactured for NASA he designed an instrument weighing only 3Kg in 1968.

Pantridge Plan (1966)

The Belfast Coronary Care Scheme (mobile intensive-care unit) was a prehospital coronary care unit staffed by a nurse and doctor. Notably, this plan was used to manage President Lyndon Johnson when he suffered a heart attack while on a visit to Virginia in 1972.

…any lay individual who could do CPR is capable of using a defibrillator…a defibrillator should be beside every fire extinguisher…life is more important than property.

Pantridge 1970

Major Publications



Eponymous terms


Dr Lorcán Oliver LITFL author

MB BCh BAO MSc. I am currently working as an ED RMO in Perth, Australia. I completed my NHS Foundation Training in Northern Ireland before flying to Australia and embracing the outdoor lifestyle it has to offer. I have enjoyed competing for my County Hurling and Gaelic Football teams, and have always taken a keen interest in sports. I am a keen traveller and look forward to exploring more of the continent.

As a fluent Irish speaker, I always try to use my Gaeilge chomh minic agus is feidir!


BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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