In a featured story for Texas Monthly, writer Christian Wallace goes out-way, way, out-to Loving County, Texas, where a team of medics and EMTs bring health care to the West Texas oil patch. As oil-field medics they have to travel long distances to patch up workers, cowboys, and locals alike, making less than half the pay of roughnecks while doing so. The crews currently working in Loving County are employed by Occupational Health and Safety International (OHSI), a Houston company.
From the story: “As we loaded back into the ambulance, it occurred to me that the OHSI crews weren’t so different from the oil and gas workers they were here to help. The hard living, the time away from family, the macho culture, the insider lingo, the physicality of the job. Those who work in emergency medical services are essentially the roughnecks of health care. Although their job requires a high level of skill and knowledge, compared with other health-care gigs it is undeniably blue-collar and often treated as less than. But at least roughnecks are paid well, with many banking at least $75,000 a year. The same can’t be said of EMS workers, who on average make less than half that. And yet here they were, EMTs and medics, proving their guts and grit in the heart of nowhere, their work known only to each other—and the people they save.”
For the residents of Loving County, the county seat of Mentone and the roughnecks, the OHSI crew is usually their only ticket out of the oil patch to access actual health care, as the closest trauma centers are in El Paso or Lubbock.
To read the rest of the story on Texas Monthly, click here.