A brain surgeon walked through a snowstorm in his scrubs to perform a life-saving operation. Can we focus on the good instead of making jokes?
We say “y’all” and “bless your heart” in just about every sentence. We don’t have running water. We’re uneducated and unwashed. We completely fall apart because of two inches of snow.
These are all things said about Southerners in general and Alabamians in particular. The one about snow is true, though. For cities like Birmingham and Atlanta, triple-digit summer temperatures, city tearing tornadoes, and drowning hurricanes are much greater threats than snowstorms. In fact, in the last thirty years, Birmingham has only seen snow nine times. The snow has only been over an inch four times. Those cities don’t have salt trucks or snow plows. We have air-conditioners that imitate a polar vortex, houses built on slabs above ground in case a hurricane comes, or houses with stone basements in case anything else does. One hundred fifteen degree heat indices and hurricanes— that’s hell and high water. Ice and snow are different. You see, the area around Birmingham is riddled with hills; it looks as if something crumpled up the landscape then did a poor job smoothing it out again. It doesn’t take much ice to make a steep hill impassable. Friction is no different in the Deep South. A sheet of ice over a road can make getting from the bottom of a steep hill to the top an impossibility and getting from the top to the bottom becomes a crash course in gravitational pull. So, for those reasons, people in the South were stranded.
Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw was one of those people who was stranded. He was attending at a hospital when he got a call that a man at a hospital six miles away needed emergency brain surgeon; a life was in the balance. With the streets impassable, Dr. Hrynkiw had only one option: walk. He walked the six miles through the snow while wearing his scrubs. He walked straight into the operating room and saved the man’s life. Other medical officials at the hospital said that the man was almost sure to die without the surgery that night.
In an interview, Dr. Hrynkiw said, “It was kind of a nice day for a walk.” Six miles of ice and snow with the temperature in the twenties? That sounds like a nice day for Netflix and a blanket; which is exactly what I did. Because I’m not a hero, and I don’t hold lives in my hands. Dr. Hrynkiw is responsible for saving lives and we should be thankful that men like him are the ones tasked with doing that sort of work.
We’re not punchlines because we’re at the mercy of mother nature. We’re people. Some of us are good. Surely, some of us are bad. And a rare few are heroes.
He wouldn’t allow others to call him that, though. He said he was just “doing his job”. Well, let me say, that job is pretty damn heroic.
Photo/ NY Daily News