Implications for EMS

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This story caught my attention the other day. I’ve been thinking about it a bit and decided that there might, well more than might, be implications for EMS providers.

Texas teen was beaten, had hot cooking oil poured on her after refusing arranged marriage: police

Parents of a Texas high school student who was reported missing in late January had abused their daughter after she refused an arranged marriage, leading her to run away from home until she was found in mid-March, police said.

Maarib Al Hishmawi, 16, was reported missing on Jan. 30 after she was last seen leaving Taft High School in Bexar County. She was located in mid-March when she was taken in by an organization that cared for her after she ran away, KSAT reported.

This is in America. Texas no less. This arranged marriage involved the intended groom paying the parents of the girl $20,000.00.

When 16 year old Maarib Al Hishmawi demurred from this proposed marriage, her loving parents beat her with a broom stick and poured hot cooking oil on her.

“This young lady, at various times over that time period was subjected to some pretty bad abuse because she didn’t want to be married to this person,” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said on Friday, according to KSAT.

“Several times it was reported to us that this young lady was abused with hot cooking oil being thrown on her body. She was beat with broomsticks,” Salazar added. “At least one point, she was choked almost to the point of unconsciousness.”

Loving parents. Both of whom have been charged with a felonious “continuous violence against a family member”. Other charges might be leveled against them and the “older man” who was the intended groom.

There is another, more detailed story at the Daily Caller .

Apparently the father served as an interpreter for US military forces in their native Iraq. He was given a visa for him, his wife, and five kids in 20016, but there are no further details available.

So, what are the potential implications for EMS if we are called to assess this patient?

So you respect the mothers desire to have her stay while you assess and interview your patient? Is there the possibility of coercion?

What do you report and to whom?

What sort of pressure might there be to “respect” the different in their culture? Should we be forced to respect their culture even if it harms a patient?

How would we handle a request (or demand) for a female provider?

I ask these not was rhetorical questions because these situations are becoming more common in our “diverse” culture.

A few years back I responded to a call for a Vietnamese patient with a flu like illness. What he had was more likely pneumonia, so he was fairly sick. On the physical exam I noticed ring like burns on his back and chest. I asked, through an interpreter, what that was.

As it turned out, one of his friends had “Cupped” him. This was an “alternative medicine” attempt to cure his respiratory distress and symptoms. Unsuccessful, as it turned out.

Not being a big fan of “alternative medicine”, I suggested that maybe it wasn’t a viable course of action.

One of the EMTs on the call with me got in a huff and started to chastise me that “This is their culture and we can’t judge it.” She apparently stayed awake in “Diversity University” and swallowed the party line hook, line, and sinker.

I laughed at her and told her that we live in America and practice American medicine. Where upon she continued her diatribe until I closed the ambulance door her face.

I was a bit surprised that I wasn’t called on the carpet to explain  my culturally insensitive comments. Of course, I had enough time and age to retire with my full pension, so my answer would likely have been even less culturally sensitive.

But I digress.

My point is that we are likely to see more of this rather than less. We need to have plans in place to protect our patients and ourselves.

Maybe your agency has a plan, maybe not. If the agency doens’t, then you need to.