Paramedic John Moon on naloxone’s early days

Hometown: “Pittsburgh. However, I was born in Atlanta.”

Most recent position: Retired as the assistant chief of Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services in 2009.

Education: Paramedic training, Freedom House Ambulance Service, 1971; master of public administration, Point Park University, 2016

Professional highlights: Working at Freedom House. “I owe that organization a very deep debt of gratitude. I consider myself on this mission of spreading the history of Freedom House as a way to try and repay that debt.”

Toughest problem you had to solve: Acceptance by the medical community while working at Freedom House. “During my first intubation in a hospital, everything stopped, total silence, with everyone looking at me. And the reason they were looking is because anytime someone who looked like me [a Black man] came through that door, they had a mop or a bucket.”

Best professional advice you received: After I was laughed at by an emergency room nurse, Freedom House medical director Nancy Caroline told me, “If you don’t learn to speak the language of the emergency room, no one will ever listen to you.”

Where do you hope the paramedics profession will be in 20 years? I hope they’re still around! Unfortunately there’s a shortage of paramedics, and on top of that there is a very serious diversity issue in the emergency medical services community.

Hobbies: I love to garden. But when I can’t get outside, I have a very costly hobby, which is collecting DVDs. I have probably about five or six hundred.

If your life were a movie, who would you cast to play you? A combination of Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Samuel L. Jackson. If you can find somebody to roll all of them into one person.


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