Care for the Polis: Cities, Health, and the Humanities | Emergency by Design
Where: Columbia University
116th St. & Broadway
212-854-1754 Price: Free
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Graham Mooney, Moving the patient-passenger: cities, ambulances, and emergency medical care in the later 20th century
Recent research by Andrew Simpson and Anne Merritt has pointed to the important contribution of ambulances to the establishment of emergency medicine as a medical subspecialty from the 1960s in the United States. A great deal of attention on both sides of the Atlantic was devoted to transporting victims of road traffic accidents safely and quickly to the locations of emergency care, reflecting much broader anxieties about motor car use as a social problem. For the most part, this concern was framed as a dimension of urban inequality in that it adversely impacted city dwellers, where the levels of traffic congestion tended to be most acute. This paper draws on insights from critical mobilities studies to examine how physicians, ambulance service managers, and urban health planners sought to overcome obstacles to the efficient transport of accident victims that were posed by complex urban infrastructures. Proposed solutions in the US and Europe included investing in dedicated communication systems between ambulances and emergency rooms, building centralized control centers, manipulating traffic flow technologies in real time, the use of helicopter ambulances, and the deployment of mobile emergency rooms. Some of these solutions were more concretely realized than others, but in this paper each will be interpreted in two ways. First, they were an attempt to reconcile the various demands of two kinds of infrastructure (i.e. health and transport). Second, they were constitutive of a nascent spatio-temporal emergency medicine rhetoric whereby “pre-hospital” care was explicitly contrasted to the “definitive” care provided in hospital.
Respondent: Rishi Goyal, Emergency Doctor and Director of Medical Humanities at Columbia University.
Care for the Polis is an online conference that exists in a multi-temporal and virtual space. The conference is designed to reimagine how medical humanities and public humanities shape, and are shaped by, the city and its diverse publics. In a series of weekly Z-Panels, our invited speakers will discuss the effects of health on the conception of cities and publics—including, in the context of pandemic, the foreclosure of public space and what it means to become an online yet domestic-bound public. Together, we will address emerging concerns such as economic impact and recovery, domesticity and democracy, public care and public reconstruction.
Z-Panels are open to members of the Care for the Polis Collective and others by pre-registration. To register, please get in touch.