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American Sirens author Kevin Hazzard tells the story Freedom House, a neighborhood nonprofit that, with the help of a pioneering physician, trained some of the nation’s first paramedics.
DAVE DAVIES, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.
In most of the United States today, if you have a medical emergency, you can dial 911 and count on an ambulance arriving with a crew who have the equipment and training to perform CPR and provide other critical care before getting you to a hospital.
But as recently as the 1960s, that just wasn’t the case.
Back then, your call for help would at best get you a ride to the hospital, perhaps in a police van or a hearse from a funeral home, but no medical treatment until you reached the emergency room.
Our guest today, Kevin Hazzard, is a writer whose new book is the remarkable story of a community organization called Freedom House Enterprises in a Black neighborhood in Pittsburgh that became an incubator for modern emergency medicine.
With the help of an innovative physician, the organization trained a cadre of men as paramedics – a term then just coming into existence – and sent them in newly equipped ambulances on lifesaving missions that earned a national reputation and spawned similar programs in other cities.
Kevin Hazzard is a journalist, a TV writer and author of a previous book called “A Thousand Naked Strangers” that was about his 10 years working as a paramedic.
His new book is “American Sirens: The Incredible Story Of The Black Men Who Became America’s First Paramedics.”
I forgot all of my dreams from last night except for part of the end of my last dream, the dream was longer and there were more parts to this dream, but I forgot them for some reason when I woke up.
The dream took place during a nice sunny day with nice clouds at my parents house and I was probably in the living room watching/seeing and/or hearing and/or reading about the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and an interview with/about him, but that is all that I can remember of this part of the dream.
The next part of the dream took place in the living room and I was reading and/or sending a message probably to the National Public Radio (NPR) website through their contact page or by email and/or I was reading about NPR, and it probably involved problems with NPR and suggestions on how to improve things; but that is all that I can remember of this part of the dream.
In the last part of the dream I was once again inside the living room and my brother CC was outside watering and/or feeding the dogs and/or something like that, and then I heard a man in our yard talking very loudly who spoke English with a heavy accent like he was from India (Indian) or Pakistan (Pakistani).
The man was talking loudly trying to get my brother CC’s attention and he was asking him personal questions about his bank, trying to find out what bank or banks he used, and other personal information like a phone scam and/or something like that where they try to get enough information to steal money from your bank accounts and/or to commit identity theft against you and/or to scam you.
I opened the window preparing to tell my brother CC to not answer those questions but then I decided that I would go outside and kindly ask the man to leave and walk him out of the yard and tell him to have a good day, but I woke up before I could do this.