Did you know that the modern idea of paramedics — a special team of personnel with broad medical training who pick up the injured and bring them to hospital — began as a charitable effort in poor Black neighbourhoods in Philadelphia? I didn’t, until I read this 99 Percent Invisible story about Phil Hallen, a a former ambulance driver who worked with a community-driven program providing food to poor Black neighborhoods and got the idea to combine that with medical assistance to create mobile intensive-care units.
“One day, Hallen came across an article in the local paper, about a Black-operated jobs training program based in the Hill District called Freedom House. The article described how Freedom House had rolled out a kind of mobile grocery store for Black neighborhoods, using trucks to bring fresh vegetables to people’s doors. Hallen initially thought something similar could be done to provide medical transportation to the underserved Black communities of Pittsburgh.”