Emergency Medical Services

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) project is my original graduate research project. Begun in 2009 as a pilot study and expanded between 2011 and 2015 as my dissertation research, the project has aimed to understand the experience urban EMS work. My interest in the topic is rooted in my own experience as an Emergency Medical Technician. This research has culminated in a book manuscript, Medicine at the Margins, which is under contract with Fordham University Press and undergoing minor revisions after peer review.

In the book, I argue that three types of marginality define EMS work: (1) the EMS system has a tenuous relationship with both the formal health care system and the broader first responder system, existing in a gray area between the two; (2) marginalized work conditions, which include 24-hour shifts filled with downtime spent fighting boredom, characterize EMS work; and (3) EMS work in practice is defined not by the most acute patients but those with chronic mental health issues, substance use disorders, and housing instability who live in particular neighborhoods within cities. Providers' views of where these patients live, which I measure with qualitative GIS techniques, diverge from more objective measures of EMS work in this city. These findings allow me to provide empirical evidence of how neighborhood stigmas arise through work routines and institutional practices.