One night halfway through a graveyard shift at the hospital, orderly John Moon watched as two young men burst through the doors. They were working desperately to save a dying patient. Maybe today he wouldn’t bat an eye at this scene, but in 1970 nothing about it made sense. The two men weren’t doctors, and they weren’t nurses. And their strange uniforms weren’t hospital issued. Moon was witnessing the birth of a new profession—one that would go on to change the face of emergency medicine. The two men were some of the worlds first paramedics, and, like Moon, they were Black. This is the story of Freedom House Ambulance Service of Pittsburgh. They were the first paramedics and they changed the way we think about emergency medicine.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Ninety nine percent, invisible, has brought you by progressive saving money. Eating providers of auto insurance with progressive name. Your price tool, you can say what kind of coverage are looking for and how much you want to pay and progressive will help you find out if I, for an average of six discounts on their own policy with progressive discounts. Just words we're gonna go online or having multiple vehicles on their policy. The court online progressive that come and see how much you could be saving National annual average, auto insurance savings by new customers surveyed in twenty nineteen potential savings will very discounted are not available in all states and situations. This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars
back in the nineteen Sixtys and Seventys and the city of Pittsburgh. There was a nickname for cars like John the unemployment levels, which simply meant that no matter where you wish for John nobody would hurry. Moon grew up in Pittsburgh, largely plaque in economically depressed hill district. In better times the hill had its own Negro league, baseball and jazz comes that hosted Duke and Louis Armstrong. But by the time Moon was graduated high school in the late sixties, there was no escaping the neighborhoods unemployed signal reputation was there. I don't want to go to heal without you may get beaten You have drug attics, alcoholic and that same labor was placed on myself in an I understood that just because that was your thought doesn't necessarily mean that I had to it so
He was glad to land a well paid job right at a school at the local steel mill, only to discover that the hours work as reliable, as he had hoped Next he was an orderly Pittsburgh, Presbyterian University Hospital provided steady employment, but not much else. All I was doing was making bad said. Take people back and forth to operate lifting and stuff like that mechanical, well, you didn't have to think for a while moon tried his best to find meaning in the work, but there was a part of me that shit has to be something more that I can do. Then one night halfway through the graveyard shift watched as two men burst through the doors the hospital they were working, desperately to save a dying patient and as they rushed by moon, stood pressed against the wall and wondered who are these people? What what? What is it? doing what you know.
How did they get to be able to do that? Maybe today He wouldn't bat an eye at the scene, but in nineteen seventy, nothing about it made sense the two men, weren't doctors and they weren't nurses in their strange uniforms were hospital issue, but these guys I came here with a certain type of confidence that was just shut. To me from the very point that they came into the room, and emblem on on underbrush duchess pick my interests, the one was the two snake producers, the traditional sign of medicine and healing, but just below the familiar. Some was a word. John Moon had never seen before. Paramedic loan wasn't familiar with the term paramedic because back then, no one was that's reporter Kevin Hazard Loan was witnessing the birth of a new profession when that will go on to change the face of emergency medicine,
but a moon. Perhaps the most striking thing of all was that these first ever paramedics looked like him I'm sorry you're. Looking at these two guys in and I'm saying to myself, my god, these are black ass. Never before had moonshine young african american men performing tat kind of work. These were two guys they had half rose in beard and the staff on the floor gave them a level love of respect. That amazed me and this something I never really mentioned. Two to anyone is actually snuck off the floor and I actually followed them out of the vehicle. Because I wanted to see what prompted them to show such proud, this and and and both this once I looked at the vehicle paw
it was almost like There goes my job, their growth, my career, that's what I want to do, move out right, then half way through a long night shift to become a paramedic whatever that was in Pittsburgh. Nineteen. Seventy only place to do that was an organization called Freedom House ambulance service. Through I win applied to get a job with them and the rest, his history. But history about how a group of young black men from Pittsburgh became the world's first paramedics, still largely unknown. I'm a former paramedic myself. I did this job for ten years Think the professions. Origin story would be a big deal, but the truth is most of the aunties I've taught. You had never heard the Freedom House paramedics or understand what we owe them.
Today, it's easy to take what paramedics, due for granted, call nine one one and arrive with cardiac monitors, airway equipment and an array of pharmaceuticals to treat anything from heart attacks: gunshots too premature birth, but for a long time, emergency medical service or what today is called him ass, didn't provide anything resembling that nearly days of what we would view is immense. It really wasn't the equivalent of what we see today. They will do whatever it was. They knew to do, but where they doing the right thing, who knows that, clingy he's the President of the EMS Museum in the train, the paramedics. Then she says that when he started emergency care in a late fifties, emergency services did provide treatment at the scene, Raven necessarily and away the hospital they
marketing you to the hospital as quickly as possible, which kind of makes sense and weigh it is, after all, were the doctors are, but, as a result, it often clear whose responsibility was to rush to the scene of an accident. For the evolution of EMS. Who did you call well? I was a paid firefighter back in the 60s, and sometimes we got the call if somebody needed a firetruck in the Seton. You are cover fire boxes everywhere. You pull the handle and fire personal fire equipment would show up The possibility for transporting patients often fail to local funerals, to imagine you're having a massive heart attack and lives in the balance, and who rules up to save you, two morticians in hers but many major cities, this crucial task. Fell to another municipal service? There probably had even less business, responding to medical emergencies, the police, in the area where I was a firefighter, we had a police,
out of fifty seven chevaler wagon. That an emergency response vehicle so the idea, the general public which face with was That's what I would call swoop in scoop, which simply meant that Call the police that russian person out there to you and in a pickup which and back and rushed back down to the hospital with minute. Training and equipment. John moons is pleased about Miss could do little more than offer. Patients basic first stayed a canvas stretcher empty auction tank in a pillar more often than not only serve to choke off the patient's airway, and on top of that both individual meaning police officers got up front and left. You back there by yourself. So if you stop breathing by the time you arrived. You were perhaps deal because no one done anything for you. The police simply didn't have the tools, the training or the despair
vision to save people in a medical emergency. But in the absence of dedicated emergency medical service. The job was being left to them by default. And perhaps nowhere was the problem of relying on the police for help more ITALY, illustrated and in Pittsburgh. Largely Black Hill District Moon says the city mostly white police force was often slow to respond to emergencies and a hill or the black resin for their part, are reluctant, even call the police to begin with, because there, I trust issue with the police primarily because there were no constraints mean they could do whatever they wanted, and there was no repercussion consequences for their actions. No one wanted to get into the exact same police Van that the cops trend to throw them in the day before so there was the issues all the way around, do I really want to call the police checks. What are they gonna take your time getting here number one and if I wait too long, they ensure
a cab won't come to my neighborhood, primarily because of fear of being robbed whether publications. So the options were very limited during that time, same was true to varying degrees in the rest of the country whether a neighborhood was served by police or the far apart or the local funeral as long as the priority was transportation, as opposed to treatment. No even realise that there was a job that needed doing, but then, in the midst sixties, something happened which flip the paradigm for emergency care on its head and laid the groundwork. Theo mention of pair medicine in nineteen. Sixty six, the federal government published a white paper that would prove so influential that even now In Emma circles it is simply called the White paper You told us we were killing over fifty thousand people a year on the highways and- and doing so unnecessarily, that there was a way to intervene and save those people, but we didn't have
people nor the resources nor the training to do a lot about it techniques practice by combat medics overseas. These have been largely ignored by the medical community, with the result that a person was me more likely to die of a gunshot wound in America than on a battlefield, in Vietnam. White paper. Shame the government into providing money for EMS Development on the local level. And officials and local community leaders began searching for solutions, including a community organizer in Pittsburgh named Phil Helen. Oh my god. What do I do this? How is a former ambulance attendant who came to spoken early sixties and yes, he hate being interviewed How are we gonna be going on us and I dont? I can't I don't Last very long had at age ninety
How and ran civil Rights Organisation called the Maurice Falk Medical Fund, which examined health disparities due to institutional racism, and he immediately focused desire on the cities, pitiful emergency services, What was her impression of the level of care devils available has worked well. Is it wasn't my impression of it? It was the way it was. There wasn't any level of care. There was no such thing as emergency medicine or any of the things we now look back on. What was what the hell is going on, though there was nothing I mean nobody was trained the cops
We could see that what was going on was effectively a public health crisis that was disproportionately affecting black neighborhoods. But then one day, Helen came across an article in the local paper about a black operated jobs, training programme based in the hilt, district called Freedom House. The articles bribed how Freedom House rolled out a kind of mobile grocery store for black neighborhoods, using trucks, to bring fresh vegetables to people's doors and well health care tat, terrible in the hill districts. You have to do something if it is a good run of grocery van around, why can't we run a medical van around or something like that Helen was an envisioning anything like modern emergency medical services at first
stop freedom house. His truck could help transport people in underserved neighbourhood to the hospital and I think, a higher people from the hill district to drive them. But that's what I got the director of the university hospital on this group is well, and you know before the first reading was over. He said: oh, my god, we have to go a bit. It led to suffer. The experimental study you are about to see is one of a similar studies getting rich compared. Various methods of artificial respiration, DART repeater suffer was ahead of anesthesiology at University of Pittsburgh. By that time he was all famous and medical circles safer, was a was a pure scientist and a very precise, impatient Austrian risen.
Made, it feel conditions by selecting subjects, men and women of various bodies times. This is a film of suffer from nineteen fifty one demonstrating a new technique he developed for resuscitating what today, because if we are to help Haiti until we have made a diagram of experimental Sarah four understood that to be effective, resuscitation needed to be started immediately by the first person on the scene, but he faced heavy resistance from the medical community, which felt the general public couldn't be trusted with such specialised knowledge. So so, performed an experiment by honest died. In Kyoto rising these subjects, we simulated limp asphyxiated.
Thence, suffer paralyzed. A group of volunteers using chemical compounds from Amazon normally used on poison tipped arrows, which is a medical testing, has changed a lot once the volunteers can no longer breathe on around safer, had on train lay people, you CPR to keep those volunteers alive and when I say on trained lay people. I mean children. This boy scout later foreign laughter, elaborating ultimately suffers views would be vindicated and for his effort, he'd forever be known as the Father of CPR how already knew some of this when he walked in Peter Sapphires Office in nineteen sixty six, but nothing could have prepare them for what actually happened. Ten seconds of Greeting Helen and the Freedom House team, the weary and energetic sapper begin, to unleash. A torrent of ideas basically has said, we're just what I'm looking for. I have a try
figure, figure out how to take rescue, breathing and arrest out on the street in the train people how to do that? You got the people the chapel, didn't: stop there. He wasn't content to just teach him Van Driver CPR. I said let's, go beyond that lets train them to be professionals as well profession, who could provide high quality medical care before The person was even taken to the hospital. It was not go to the scene, pick up a patient transport to a hospital and then start carried was emergency treatment right there on the paper. Instead of re purpose, cargo spaces I argued that ambulances should be mobile. Intensive care unit staffed by professionals trained
cardiac monitors MR medication and anything else that might keep a patient alive. How on and the others could barely keep up safer, wasn't proposing a simple updating the existing system, but to change a whole culture, a pre hospital care he wanted to do it using freedom house. I, like somebody, said how big what is what are we talking about here? He said I could teach. I can remember this. I can instruct forty people inside of a half an hour. We realise that this is something going on here, which was way beyond anything that we had thought of safer set about designing advanced ambulances, and it attends three hundred our course whose graduates would be the world's first comprehensively train first responders. This wasn't just the birth of a profession but of a whole new branch of medicine. It would become a vital link in the chain with subculture all its own. In the world's first, fully trained paramedics would be stopped exclusively with young black men from the Hill District of Pittsburgh in
the people that work there. Ah we're labelled unemployable. Freedom House recruited many of its first students right off the street motive. We're just happy to land a good job, even if they were a little further beyond the details, John Moon wasn't part of that first class he sent up a little later, but even he admits that credible as he thought the opportunity was. He didn't fully. Understand what he was getting into on someone He was excited to finally be wearing the uniform, with the cool emblem that he saw the first night I'll put it this way, If someone bought you a thousand dollar suit and just give it to you and said Just walk up and down the street in it. How would you feel that way? I felt I was at the point where ok, I got this uniform. That's all it takes to help
The boy was our raw. It took a little bit more than that after they signed up moon and the others under what a battery of psychological evaluations in interviews with medical professionals, they learned, anatomy, physiology sepia our advance for stayed nursing and offensive driving first under safer, but later under freedom, houses. First, medical director, a thirty year, white doktor with no previous ambulance experience named Nancy Caroline and we Look at her with scepticism because you have to remember she's, not black, but what we found out that her heart was with us. It was real. A nothing she could do wrong in everywhere she went she took asked with her Caroline got the trainees access to almost every department of the hospital ship. Nor can the morgue
There's theology sweep maternity wards, of course, we're going to bring the icy you to the street. They had a master everything that happened in an icy. You showed up. Included, span earlier mobilization, cervical immobilization? I be high insertion and the advantages of of classroom training for us at that particular time used. We will learn a procedure and classic she would teach it to us. And then we will go out a half hour for it, I'm later after we got class form that procedure on person can freedom house paramedics were often the first people to perform that procedure outside of hospital. They were the first used, Narc hand, traverse an overdose and the first to save a patient by. Docking their heart and field Moon told me that the biggest first he personal experience, came in a car were near to Caroline was riding along. He would you a patient having trouble reason he was unconscious cement.
Started calling it in into Caroline stopped him, and lo and behold, she said: started, ivy and intubate a patient, and I said, that success start an ivy, an this patient moon thinks he was the first, paramedic who has ever asked, innovate someone in the field. I wasn't able to confirm that, but innovation, the sword A critical art, snaking, breathing tube into a patient's trachea is an incredibly difficult procedure. I've gone through the training, it's not easy, even in a hospital setting. And here they were doing it on the sidewalk moon says you their death ass. I gathered my nerves together. And remember how he taught us in the anatomy lab I went, IRAN it and
What's our interbedded the person come to the emergency room had to deal with the ear doktor saying: woe who innovator, dispersion, hoo hoo, who caused him to be interested in I did and you are. Well, my name is John Mood. I'm the freed Mouse Avenant Serbs. But it was enough for moon and the other paramedics to simply mastered the techniques required for emergency medical care, freedom personnel faced an even bigger challenge from the moment they got the call the city had contracts. Did with Freedom House to handle cause in Pittsburgh, mostly black neighborhoods in the downtown area, but the Pittsburgh police dispatchers often refused to send them because the police, that as someone taken their jobs away, but freedom ass looked at the play, This has been a threat to the patient and one or two things: that we had to put in place is
use a police scanner, We will monitor the college and we would subsequently try to get to deceive before they did boom recalls getting to the scene just seconds after the police arrived and seeing them try to drag patients at a wreck, cars- and here we are saying no- you can't do this- thus put him on a Spine board and put a cervical collarbone. Remember these four bunch of black eyes from the hill lecturing, mostly white cops general will Yellin Adam your cousin, this out, sometimes the police, would release but other times. I would threaten the paramedics for the rest unless they backed off and the only thing you can do it just stand back and today
ok, and then you watch them dragged the individual out or to car and put him in the back of a Patty wagon and and and both guys get up frightened when they re shop till Hospital Dover oftentimes battles that you were not going to win their wasn't. Just the cops didn't understand. Patients couldn't fathom by moon was using a cardiac monitor, starting I, these in their house, instead of hurrying them to a doctor. Dear idea was left called the amber and establish, comes a pick you up and take you to a hospital. That's all they knew and it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to explain to family member, that we are, brought emergency room to the parson Trying to convince white patients to submit treatment was especially difficult, some, wouldn't even let the black paramedics touch them. That was found on more than one occasion where they were
say no, do you have to really do this? I would prefer that you not do it and in its it's something that we had to endure because the problems not with ass the problems with the patient. It was their belief, They are preconceived notions about the individuals. The touching them the same. For doctors and nurses and any hospital not directly affiliated with safer and the Freedom House Programme Moon remembers, trying to read a patient, vital signs Only to have a nurse laugh in his face is, if use pretending to play doktor other freedom House, paramedics, were mistaken for orderlies and asked to mark the floor, Despite all the struggle freedom, does reputation was growing they or beginning to recognize it. Something really different. What's going on here, this wasn't just call the ambulance
Phil Helen story started to spread about an ambulance service that could perform miraculous lifesaving procedures at the scene of horrific accidents perhaps the most influential story, was about a kid on his bike who was hit head on by a common view was in Squirrel Hill, one of the city's most affluent neighbourhoods and one Freedom house had never been allowed to enter so initially The dispatcher sent the police, but the cops panic. The can the bleeding out in front of them and they had no idea what to do. Somebody said Denton Freedom House up here, and they did it miraculous activity which nobody had ever seen happen take place at the street before people, watched. It happened, and that was a bet. Turning point
by this time, freedom houses, five ambulances we're running nearly six thousand calls a year and providing demonstrably better care. At a city council, meeting Sappho presented data showing that as many as twelve hundred people were year had been die needlessly, born in the care of other emergency services, freedom paramedics by contrast, had saved too hundred lives in the first year alone, doctors and medical directors around the country flocked to Pittsburgh, freedom, house medics were invited to conferences. As far away as Germany, everyone wanted to see what they were doing and learn how they could copy and one seventy five federal go. It shows freedom house to feel tat. The first standardized training curriculum for EMS providers. Nancy Caroline was asked to write the textbook but Freedom House is growing reputation, will ultimately prove to be its greatest liability. The more success as they chalked up
the more certain residents and city officials wanna, see freedom, house gone according to John Moon, it was for a simple reason, how dare you. Have any a system or an ambulance service, this good serving the black economically deprive community. Or as society says, those people. And we don't have anything like that. As no one did more to punish freedom house for this transgression, then Pittsburgh Mare, elected eighteen. Sixty nine forty five year old, PETE Flirty was officially conservative. Democrat tall and broad shouldered. He went into off already believing programmes using taxpayers, money should be managed in early by the city, but ask feel Helen then I'll tell you who believe that the mayor's beef with Freedom House, when b
on issues of fiscal or bureaucratic turf. What was his opinion of freedom house? I didn't like it particularly Does it was it was doing too well, I was black, you think, that's why you ve felt that way. I think so. They did. It wasn't your opinion that that it that he was racist. Yes,. When flirty took office, he slashed Freedom House is operating budget in half distant leave enough money to cover even routine maintenance on the ambulances. Caroline repeatedly wrote frustrated missives to Freedom House is board complaining about breaks and steering that locked up doors that fell from the hinges and seats that toppled over once again in the Caroline intention caught fire while transporting a patient pretty passed an ordinance that band ambulances from using their sirens and certain neighborhoods, which said frequently slow, their response times
First thou say you can't you: U siren downtown, because people complaining about an unfortunate people look in, Vehicle to see who drive and then they complain, so we I own, a car downtown. You ass a blow. You horn metallic hard to get out of the way and they look at you like your crazy room. Through spread that Freedom House paramedics were selling drugs in running dice, games from the ambulances and thousands of dollars had been stolen from headquarters in Libya, AMOS struggle after struggle after struggle, lady, eventually you know it's almost like a patient, struggling to breathe and eventually to her gets tired stop beating in the purchase. Stop breathing it s exactly. What happened in nineteen Seventy five flirty struck off devastating blow. He announced the city. Would roll out its own brand new paramedic service,
not only was the new service showered with resources Freedom House had long been denied its recruits were all White city needed, Caroline serve at its medical director and she used that leverage to make one demand that the freedom how crews be hired on flirty relented sort of because the city was required to bring the employees over, but they were not required keep em we found a way to get rid of him. So you know That's how the shady system ended up being ninety eight percent white when the first EMS system in this country was african American then a few years of being replaced by the city's EMS service. Freedom house was more or less forgotten in part because, like all good things, paramedics were soon take it for granted.
Today it never occurred to any want to ask where pair medicine came from, but to fill Helen That's the true measure of freedom houses legacy pair medicine is just there they don't do. You know anybody that doesn't take this for granted at this point in any american city or even in the work and countryside, Nobody would Think of a time when somebody would not survive because they could. Somebody didn't know how to do so. Inflatable anywhere in anywhere. That states, The model of care created at Freedom House ended up being adopted by countless other paramedics programmes across the country. Very often, with the help of Freedom House veterans, Peter suffer helped develop a paramedic programme in Baltimore
Mitchell Brown, another Freedom House alarm became the EMS Commissioner from Cleveland and later it's rector of Public Safety and Nancy, Caroline founded the First ever EMS Service in Israel, her textbook, Idled emerged. Secure in the streets in setting the standard in a instruction for decades. As for moon, stayed with Pittsburgh, EMS retired in two thousand and nine. As an assistant chief they feel about it all. Now, when he looked back in the days when a handful of young men from the hill made history, it did something that that extremely extremely proud to have been a pardon. Every time. I see here a unit going down street. I wonder: do they have any idea as well? we'll begin because, other began there,
Kevin. I discuss what lessons the surprisingly recent history, a pair medicine, my offer Four contemplating a different role for police in our public safety infrastructure. Today, after this. A lot of security companies trap you with high prices, tricky contracts and bad customer support which doesn't leave you feel insecure, simply safe gives you reading you need to protect your home without any of these drawbacks, you get security, that's tailored space, weekly for every room in your home, plus professional monitoring, day and night, you can set up yourself In under an hour in all starting at just fifty knows. No hidden fees, no pushy salespeople, just podcast commercial, like these and unarmed delightful tracing
if today at simply saved outcomes last night you get free shipping and the sixty day risk free trial, there's nothing to lose that simply safeguard com, slash. Ninety nine. When you're a journalist who often have to research things like you know, fonts the Nazis prefer or you different nazi symbolism. Let us of this You wouldn't nazis what I dont want. Researchers found around. The internet I note your thinking. Why? Don't you just use incognito? Will that do? actually hydro activity. Neither does clearing your browsing history, your eyes, your internet service provider can still see every single website you ve ever visited. That's why? Even I'm at home, we'll go online without using express ppm so say you're, not a pike dress, a look at the fanciful. We're thinks we're late I imagine you still don't like the idea of your information being sold to add companies,
in the U S: it's totally legal for peace to do that. But with Express BP on your internet connection, is routed through secure servers. So your eyes p can't see what you're visiting protector online active today, with the bbn raided number one by Cnet and wired visit exclusive link expressed bp and outcomes, thus invisible, and you can get an extra three months, pre on a one year package that the Ex p r S ass, Vps, dotcom, slash, invisible, Express ppm, dot com site of his will turn more. Does this sound familiar you're just getting into the flow of things when, teammate after teammate. Chats you with question after question or you want to start on. A document has been the first ten minutes. Britain just searching the right person to work with. These are easy fixes if you have no
notion? Gives you one place to work which keeps you organize and gives everyone else a place to find their answers notion makes Work on her own or the team time around the clock, no matter where you are keep information centralized and stay on the same page. No more constant interruptions. Try it for yourself. Percent of a team bland had over notion dot com slots, invisible, that's notion that conflict invisible to get ten percent off a team player? Don't forget that notion that calm slice, invisible. Ok, so I'm not talking with Kevin Hazard, a report that story for us and you: or a paramedic that I think that, interesting to note, how did you get into being paramedic basic, after nine eleven working as rapporteur and I You know a lot of my by friends
what had been in the military, and they had these crazy stories that they would tell me one of them was among the first Marines enter into Iraq. You know he's like Cruising along him up rockets she now being far from helicopter, so close, he could feel a heat offer them and I'm sitting in City council meetings in reporting on the weather. They should put speed bombs and various suburban streton. I'm just frustrated and board, and in one night I got sent by my editor to cover a tunnel collapse. They were doing this huge infrastructure project Atalanta and yeah. They were six guys on a scaffolding to drop two hundred and fifty feet into the earth and we sat outside with the families and waited and then but the paramedics that went down there, the sort of high angle few team Annie. Rappel down, you know to the darkness and we're all waiting and waiting and waiting to find a damn urgent need. Of course, the news is is as bad as as we anticipated at the b,
But there was something in those guys in the way that they carry themselves and in whatever was that they saw once they disappeared into darkness that whole. I just thought one. Whatever we conversion, the truth and I'm looking for. I think those guys are somewhere within him. You know, and so I did so for an EMT class completely on a lock and no idea. If I even could finish it- and you know next thing- you know I'm sitting on an ambulance and on my way to some ridiculous call. You know I just it all happened somewhat somewhat accidentally sounds pretty similar to the story that John Moon says. You know like of seas, and one being inspired of that is being a vocation and then, speaking to you in some way did that that story have particular resident with you because of your own experience. Did I mean if you get to the heart of John story? You're really he's he's a young guy who's. Looking for a way to prove himself in the world in a particular to world has ignored him
see. My experience in life is vastly different from John, but you know that to me was. I saw this group of people who are doing something that I thought that I could do you know it I feel like an unattainable goal, but it felt like this incredible opportunity to do this sort of thing that I never anticipated. You now have the opportunity to do and so that there is a lot and John Story, TAT always felt there was ring true to me in, what part of your career did you, about this history about you know the first paramedics being black men from an undeserved, neighborhood in Pittsburgh and this whole origin story. Oh part, I think that's probably the reason it John sets up a night filing his teeth and is in his Pittsburgh home Nobody knows this when, when I went to paramedic school my structures when the first six medics instead of Georgia
and he was telling us they stores of the early days when he was riding hearse in coming out of your homes and they would embalm bodies one night and in transport. The next and he did get a call and you sweep the flower petals out of the back of the hearse and you rush off. So what do you say sweeping out petals in the hearse? He was one of those people sent by the funeral home to be any a mess persons. That is that what you mean yeah much of Atlanta, the only people who are capable of transporting a body with a few euros brightly and how many people have something like a hearse and so we would, If funeral home, employee and one night a week, he would embalm bodies and in the next night he would be responsible for responding to emergency call. This with me now for there was any notion of paramedic, so these his head? You know maybe ten hours, a first aid training they're sitting down you know in the basement, funeral home
comes in they rush out again the yank out the casket sweep out the flower petals slide in some sort of a stretch. Then races streets and a horse which, Does it is old, Cadillac horses, and he said that if you get going too fast, the brakes would sovereign haven't you couldn't stop so screaming cigarettes hers with purple light on its roof screaming to the city of Atlanta. With no brakes flower petals trailing out of the back window. Guns. That sounds like a totally different world. It's amazing that that's within our lifetime, system is not that long ago, at all near, is so high. Bring these stories of the early days. When you know they cared credit card machine with them before they dropped a picture of the hospital they'd slide in front of him say cash checker charge This really sort of wild West era. Anyway, Nobody really knew what they were doing, but that was all I knew about. It was that it started out in a very slow
shall sort of way and then slowly became serious. It wasn't after my book came out, somebody said to me: you know: hey, there's another story, another EMS or, if you ever looking for one and it was said in Pittsburgh,. And so I started googling it and the think confine were handful of local press accounts. You know these. These can a young men and women who had done this thing and it late sixties, early seventies and I started digging into it and all of a sudden the reality of what it was. It had happened that nobody knew you know I, I know a paramedic from Pittsburgh who has no idea that this was. The start of it all, and for no one to know that it was who is shocking to me ticklish, who did it for a year and wrote about it, and when I got in touch with joy then, I suppose nobody noticed, and he just screamed- I know, but nobody knows I'm so glad we get to tell a story because its
it's amazing to me, and it is probably resonant today, in particular the role of police in both the story you told and was happening right now. There's this history there that we presented, that is near the police, were the kind of fault person to be called in this type of emergency, even though they had the skills or inclination to do the job that was required and were look at what policing needs today and what does it mean that a person potentially armed like a soldier, is brought to a situation where the sum and had a stroke, for example, on. Maybe that is in the right and do we have this discussion or we link We'll have this discussion in the way. Sixtys and Seventys too. So when you, when you think about this, for you told your experience anything about what, discussions are having today, how do you again the moment and reconcile
with this history that that we told in the story yeah, you know what's crazy about that is when I began researching a story I was coming across, quotes that really got to the heart of Our station were just now having today in this desert things it. I was reading in the fall in spring of of twenty eighteen and twenty nineteen. You know Duke the early medics who were out there saying hey, you know if you want this. This struck the shop at your house you have to understand that last night, that was a truck that showed up to arrest your neighbor and tomorrow night might be the truck to show up to arrest you, and if you really think people can be comfortable calling neck. I do to arrive tonight in any. Think you understand, situation were living in and there was a lot of push back from the city of Pittsburgh. Alleghany County about changing the system, because it was the scenario, is banned in people works, and somebody was able to come along and prove that noticed this isn't working in these guys aren't suited for this task. Nobody,
What is valuable about these lessons of history? it's so recent that pyramids were invented. Like it's so surprisingly, recent that it should for your mind to think of the possibilities of what, structure. Public safety could be today if we didn't all wanted to rest on the police, and and wanted to try something different. I would agree. I understand the resistance to understand the fear that people feel new say something like defend the police. It sounds like really radical term But if you can sit down realise how often the police were called out because there's a site pay who hasn't taken his medicine and his seventy six year, old parents aren't certain what to do them in a police officer shows up on that sang to it, Emma everything looks like a now. Will you an unfortunate police, really kind of that they haven't their limited in terms of what they can do and the things I learned very quickly in doing a job as have the police can't lose a fight.
By the nature of their profession. They are their back backs against the wall and once they arrive, they have to keep pushing forward and often times that led to a situation that didn't need to happen. You knows what what could have been a situation. We had the escalated minded escalating because. The personnel arrived with someone who had essentially, if they didn't equal. Patient. They only had one avenue tat. They could venture down. It's amazing to me to think when John Moon saw the paramedics for the first time, he had never heard the word paramedic, you know, and it was completely novel to most people anything today about how were thing about the police and may be how to swim if on them or divest them of some of these activities which they're not suited towards? I think it's interesting to imagine that there could be a word. You know that is like a rat been response: social worker, mental health worker that is going to be sent,
how do people that will be a word like paramedic in fifty years. Have you thought about that it feels like I have. It feels like we're on the cusp of of of that moment. You know, there's. There is no doubt that people We are looking for a new way for placed responded, something different to come out and not the number of instances we ve had, which you know these situate since have gone wrong, how often it has been somewhat whose called offer a mental health issue Something I didn't initially appeared to be a crime in progress, and you have to think somebody out there in. Amidst all these, you know defined the police conversation. Someone must be saying. Well, how else can we deplore these sources. Who else can we bring to bear in these situations? I can bring a better outcome, and probably a new job title new role, a whole new group of people that are sitting out there, that and not to long from now we're all gonna look back and say, look of course to Mohammed. Naturally, those guys are their natural. Those people are responding. How.
Did we live without them and unite. I think were we're sort of at the moment, with these three things are born wording interesting and I am so glad- were able to share the story. So thanks so much for talking with us and for reporting and spend great
IKEA through regrettable ninety nine percent. Invisible was produces week by Kevin Hazard, edited by Jo Rosenberg mix into production by Sarah Mccarthy Entry Visa music by Sharia. Her course it is the digital director of the recipe senior editor Delaney Home Katy Mingle, Emmett Fitzgerald Vivian lay Crisper Reuben Abbe met on Sophia classic me, Roman. Many thanks to the activists for sharing Kevin's original story with us. If you want to learn more about the history of Freedom House, you should check out that article. If you want to learn more about Kevin's career as a paramedic, you should go read his memoirs called a thousand naked strangers bubbling to both on a website. We are a project of many one. What seven key ale, W Intemperate Cisco produced on radio row, which is distributed in multiple locations around with America hearts and will always be a beautiful, downtown, Oakland? California,
we are proud. Member of radio Toby from your ex fiercely independent collectively, the most innovative listener supported one hundred percent artist of import cast in the world, find us in supporters on Radio Tokyo derive em. Just like these fine people did Emilio Martinez, Ashley Travers Bill, Warthin, Alison, Myers, Elizabeth Camaro, enjoying Jeff. You just got my great congratulations and thanks everybody prayer sport between me at ruin Mars in the show at nine idea. Organ instagram and read it to their true home on the internet is nine IP eyes dot org. Radio do. Many members, invisible supported by better help online counselling, going on today. Stress can easily started
you'll overwhelming if you're struggling with anxiety depression or isolation. You are alone, better help has been a resource for many people. During this time and they continue to hire councillors, simply fill out a questionnaire to get match with a licence professional counselor to fit your needs, its quick. Easy to connect and the online environment is safe and private. Anything and everything you share is confidential. Better help is an affordable option in our listeners. Get ten percent off your first month with Discount Code, invisible, you can get started today, gotta better help that Comstock Invisible, that's better. Eighty lp dotcom slash invisible talk to a therapist online and get help when you want in wherever you are.
Transcript generated on 2020-07-27.