What Is It Like To Be an EMT on the Front Lines?
Maya Alexandri in Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On Podcast
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Maya Alexandri, EMT and author of The Plague Cycle, discusses how right now may feel like being on a battlefield.
From the episode:
Andrew Keen: Reading your essays reminds to be in some ways of war journalism. Is it like being at war at the moment fighting the Coronavirus?
Maya Alexandri: It’s such an interesting question. The war metaphor is ubiquitous. We are referring to health care providers as heroes. We talk about people being on the front lines. We do talk exactly as you said. We’re at war. We’re fighting the Coronavirus. I think there’s certainly a lot of very relevant parallels.
Certainly the camaraderie that one develops with one’s coworkers when you’re facing this risk together, when you’re putting yourself out there at risk to try to help your community and there is unavoidably danger. There’s also a lot of technical things that we have to do, like, you know, suiting up in our personal protective equipment as we’re going into people’s houses. We are wearing a lot more personal protective equipment than I was as a medical student in the hospital. So there are parallels.
Personally, I don’t think the war metaphors are such a great fit just because the intent is so different. There’s no hostilities. There isn’t really an enemy. I mean, I suppose you can think about a virus as an enemy, but I’m not really sure it makes sense. It’s a microorganism. It’s part of our natural environment. It’s doing evolutionarily what it is fit to do, and it does it really well. A lot of our thinking of ourselves at war with the natural world has devastating consequences in other areas like climate change, and certainly for my own intent going out to do what I do, if I had the mindset of going into combat I think I might not be able to be there for my patients who need to be able to establish rapport with me, who need to be able to trust me, and who need to rely on me to take care of them, even though they potentially could make me sick. I also could potentially make them sick. If we start to think about each other as the enemy, then I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my task, so I feel like there’s a lot more nuance. AI feel like it’s very important to be able to be in touch with a kind of tenderness and care for other people.
Maya Alexandri is a novelist, lawyer, certified EMT, medical school student, and 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Maya’s collection of short stories, The Plague Cycle, was published by Spuyten Duyvil in May 2018. She is also the author of the novel, The Celebration Husband (TSL Publications 2015).