The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library Presents Kevin Hazzard in conversation with John Moon - American Sirens

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library Presents Kevin Hazzard in conversation with John Moon - American Sirens

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2022 7:00 PM

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
441 John Lewis Freedom Parkway, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30307

Atlanta-based television writer and journalist Kevin Hazzard tells the extraordinary story of an unjustly forgotten group of Black men in Pittsburgh who became the first paramedics in America, saving lives and changing the course of emergency medicine around the world.

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and A Cappella Books welcome the author for a discussion on his important new book, “American Sirens: The Incredible Story of the Black Men Who Became America's First Paramedics.” Hazzard will appear in conversation with former Freedom House paramedic John Moon.

This event is free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the venue. Masks are optional. 

About the Book

Until the 1970s, if you suffered a medical crisis, your chances of survival were minimal. A 9-1-1 call might bring police or even the local funeral home. But that all changed with Freedom House EMS in Pittsburgh, a group of Black men who became America’s first paramedics and set the gold standard for emergency medicine around the world, only to have their story and their legacy erased—until now.

In “American Sirens,” acclaimed journalist and paramedic Kevin Hazzard tells the dramatic story of how a group of young, undereducated Black men forged a new frontier of healthcare. He follows a rich cast of characters that includes John Moon, an orphan who found his calling as a paramedic; Peter Safar, the Nobel Prize-nominated physician who invented CPR and realized his vision for a trained ambulance service; and Nancy Caroline, the idealistic young doctor who turned a scrappy team into an international leader. At every turn, Freedom House battled racism—from the community, the police, and the government. Their job was grueling, the rules made up as they went along, their mandate nearly impossible—and yet despite the long odds and fierce opposition, they succeeded spectacularly. Never-before revealed in full, this is a rich and troubling hidden history of the Black origins of America’s paramedics, a special band of dedicated essential workers, who stand ready to serve day and night on the line between life and death for every one of us. 

About the Author

Kevin Hazzard is a journalist, TV writer, and former paramedic. His first book, “A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back,” was published by Scribner in 2016. He now writes for film/TV, with work produced by Hulu, CBS, ABC and Universal. His freelance journalism has been published at 99% Invisible, the Atavist, Men’s Journal, Creative Loafing, Atlanta Magazine, and elsewhere. He is also a sought-after voice on emergency medicine. He lives in Atlanta.

About the Conversation Partner

John Moon was born in Atlanta and moved to Pittsburgh in 1963. A former Freedom House Paramedic until it was absorbed by Pittsburgh EMS in 1975, he continued to work for Pittsburgh EMS for the next 34 years retiring in 2009 as an Assistant Chief.