Poverty, From a Paramedic’s Perspective

Photo by Mustapha Muhammed (cropped) on Unsplash.

Here’s another essay that’ll stick with you: Elizabeth Rosen’s “A Real Emergency,” at Hazlitt:

Susan is like most of my patients: lonely, destitute, and nursing a minor medical complaint. I’ve worked on a 911 ambulance for five years in three different counties. Urban and rural, rich and poor, wet and dry. My job isn’t really what people think it is.

Rosen is a paramedic, and she regularly interacts with people who call 911 because they don’t have any other resources available to them — or, sometimes, because they just want human connection and someone to pay attention to their needs.

I was trained in school to react in a matter of seconds to life-or-death situations. Open the airway, stop the bleeding. Save the heart that hangs precariously on the edge of death, reach out and grasp the last slim chance at life. Emergencies. But, for someone like Leena, being tired and alone is an emergency. Her life has gotten so far outside of her control that she can’t see more than an hour from now. And in the next hour, the sun’s going to set and the night fog’s coming in. Instead of leaving her on the street, I try to talk some sense into her, and give her a blanket and a ride back to the ER. Maybe this time something will change.

Read the whole thing.

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