Monday, March 01, 2010

That's What He Gets For Being Poor . . .

Curtis Mitchell's wife Sharon Edge outside thier home.  Photo from AP.. . . if he lived in a better neighborhood, he would have gotten an ambulance.

by Dick Mac

Curtis Mitchell lived in the Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh. His common-law wife, Sharon Edge, called for an ambulance in the early hours of February 6, 2010, during a snowstorm. Mitchell got his ambulance thirty hours later. He was dead.

Pittsburgh officials admit the following shortcomings:

• Details of Mitchell's calls weren't passed on from one 911 operator to another as shifts changed, so each call was treated as a new incident.

• Twice, ambulances were as close as a quarter-mile from Mitchell's home but drivers said deep snow prevented the vehicles from crossing a small bridge over railroad tracks to reach him. Mitchell was told each time he'd have to walk through the snow to the ambulances; in neither case did paramedics walk to get him.

• Once, an ambulance made it across the bridge and was at the opposite end of the block on the narrow street where the couple lived — a little more than a football field's length. Again, paramedics didn't try to walk.

The most amazing part of this story is that the couple was told three times that the sick man would have to walk through the snow to the ambulance; never did the paramedics get out of their ambulances and walk to him. AND, each time they were unable to walk through the snow, their call was cancelled!

I wonder how many white, middle-class people in Pittsburgh died after 30 hours of abdominal pain during the snowstorm of February 6th?

I know in Reagan's America I am not allowed to suggest that racism was at play here. "Conservatives" will tell us it would have happened to a white person living in that part of town, too. Of course, "those" parts of town are rarely home to white people.

So, my argument is reduced to an economic one that is faced with the notions that it was his own fault that he was poor; this is America and he had his chance to get rich and he failed, so this is just the by-product of a successful market-based economy and society. The government, of course, should not actually be responsible for making certain that poor people have access to health care, or even municipal services such as ambulances and paramedics.

When "conservatives" get their way, the government won't be providing ANY ambulances or paramedics, they will be private services that you can call for: like pizza or a taxi. If you have the money to pay for it. If not, well then tough luck.

And that's what Curtis Mitchell had: tough luck. Too bad your job was lost when your steel mill moved their jobs off-shore. Too bad you didn't have money to sink into the stock market when times were good. Too bad, Curtis Mitchell; what do you want from us?

There is no scandal in this story: this is the story of America. If you can't afford it, then you don't deserve it.

A civilized people would not have let Curtis Mitchell die. We are not a civilized people, we are a market. Civilization is expensive and Americans have no interest in paying for it.

Pa. man dies during storm when 911 calls unheeded

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Dick, Before you claim that anyone is racist, you might want to find out their race. Some of these medics where actually African American.