Monday, March 27, 2006

Are you drunk, ma'am? No? Are you yellow? I'm afraid I'll have to kill you...

Angry Asian Man linked to a story from the Washington Post featuring the firsthand account of 54 year-old Monica Yin's encounters with D.C.'s Fire and Emergency Services first respondents.

The EMTs (two or three) arrived and were told that Yin had been healthy but had suddenly experienced severe headache and, later, involuntary shaking and vomiting. Yin was lying on the bed shielding her eyes from the brilliant sunshine in the room.

An EMT asked Yin if she had been under a great deal of stress lately ("yes"); was she inebriated, had she consumed alcohol ("no"). He shook Yin and demanded that she explain her problem.

An EMT said he wanted to "do a test." He yelled at her and instructed her to "stand up." When she couldn't, he yanked her off her bed and tried to force her to stand; her body was limp and her feet did not plant on the floor. As she moaned in protest and hung like a sack, he yelled that he was going to "let go." When he did, she crashed to the floor.

His other "tests" consisted of taking Yin to a chair and instructing her to sit down. She didn't move, so he pushed her onto the chair and commanded, "Raise your arm above your head." She didn't, so he held it up, using the sleeve of her clothing, and telling her, "Now I'm gonna let go, you hold it there." He did, and her arm fell limp.

He walked over to Bryant and whispered, "I've run these tests and I think there is nothing wrong with her. . . . She just needs to stay home and rest. . . . I don't think she needs to go to the emergency room, but I'll take her if you want me to." He also whispered to Bryant, "I think she is faking it." At no time did the EMTs take her blood pressure or check her vital signs.

Using hand signals, Yin indicated she wanted the EMTs to leave her house. With them gone, Yin asked Bryant and Wyscarver to take her to George Washington University Hospital, which they did.

Yin was given a CT scan at the hospital. A "leaking aneurysm" was discovered, which led to emergency surgery, followed by a medically induced coma and a stay in intensive care for three days, then eight days in the stroke unit, where she was monitored by a neurologist.

And if Yin had followed the EMT's advice and stayed home?

The second experience actually sounds worse (more if you follow the link).

The experience sounds brutal and may shock some. I would rather you weren't shocked, though. You might conclude that a disciplining of the perpetrators would be sufficient.

The experience probably won't shock many folks of color used to dealing with this type of treatment. How many times have you dealt with civil service folks who put their desire to demonstrate their control and power over the well-being of sub-humans folks of color like us?

Until we change these institutions that encourage this behavior, it will happen again and again....and again.

This is not an indictment of all FEMS and law enforcement personnel; quite the opposite--I think these are tough jobs and somehow many of the people in these positions manage to do their jobs wonderfully under tremendous strain. They just need more support from their institutions to teach them that it is not acceptable to use folks of color as a stress relief mechanism.

Thank God that Ms. Yin survived. But how many more were not so "lucky"?


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