The few, the proud

Apparently, international emergency medicine isn’t for the faint of heart. And I’m not talking about CHF. You’ve gotta have guts. I found it interesting to learn that the greatest risk in practicing international emergency medicine is not that one might catch a communicable disease, but that one might die of physical violence. This according to Dr. Hilarie Cranmer, Clinical Instructor, Division of International Health and Humanitarian Programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In fact, physical violence against humanitarian workers is on the rise, and it is increasingly targeted and intentional. The red cross, which was once a symbol of protection, has become, for many, a target.

“We all want to save the world,” said Cranmer, “but you’re at great risk for doing so.”

Then again, emergency medicine isn’t a specialty for the risk-averse. I look around and see a lot of men and women ready and equipped for the challenge.

-Logan Plaster

Emergency Physicians Monthly


  1. Wow! I had no idea it was so dangerous in the ED! I mean, sure, you might catch a disease or something, but I didn’t think it was a very violent place. That’s kind of scary, but at the same time, kind of neat, because it shows what sort of bravery it takes to be in emergency medicine.

  2. Cap'n Jan says:

    My Dad was a medic in WWII (D-day, Cherbourg). He wouldn’t talk about the war at all until maybe the last 4 years of his life, and then sparingly. My college American History professor told me (many years ago) when I lamented my Dad’s reticence, that it was because he had seen ‘action’.

    I recall the only show that he would watch with respect to the war was a series called ‘Combat’. He’d sit quietly and watch the episode, then go out and sit on the back porch, with a hose watering the lawn… smoking cigarettes one after another. (He lived to be 94, by the way! And yeah, he was one of the ‘old men’ in his unit.)

    Well, all that by way of background, here’s the gist…

    He said that the Germans used that medic’s cross for target practice and his was loosely sewn on to be ripped off very quickly in the event of attack. Geneva convention looked real good behind the front lines…