Treat every patient as if they were our own family
We are paramedics who live and work in San Francisco; our duty to the citizens is to care for every patient equitably, as if they were our neighbor or relative. Members of the community benefit from healthcare providers who make an effort to truly understand them.
San Francisco Life Line was created by a group of bilingual Asian American and minority paramedics who know the struggle of finding culturally competent care in today's healthcare system. So much of quality medical care is contingent upon being able to understand the full context of an individual's lifestyle and risk factors.
In the prehospital setting, we meet many complex patients whose medication lists, EKG strips, vital signs, and mental/physical assessment findings require careful interpretation. First responders must often play detective and put the patient's statements together with environmental clues to form a picture of what kind of medical event is happening.
When the patient is nonverbal, incapacitated, or unable to communicate their needs, a piece of the puzzle is lost. With San Francisco Life Line, all of the participating patients' pertinent medical information is stored at home in one streamlined form.
Where It All Started
With over half of the SFLL team being children of Cantonese immigrants, we consistently found ourselves being the only emergency medical workers who could communicate with elderly Cantonese-speaking patients. Chinese Americans make up twenty two percent of the City's population. Historically, San Francisco has been home to Cantonese speakers for over 150 years; however, the Cantonese dialect is far less spoken than Mandarin and less likely to be taught in schools. Senior Cantonese residents are an under-served population due to factors such as economic insecurity, limited access to routine preventative care, and social isolation, factors that were all worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the uncertainty of a health crisis, clear communication reduces confusion and distress. Many patients are put at ease when they realize we speak their language.
There's no guarantee that paramedics responding to your emergency will speak Cantonese, Spanish, Russian, or American Sign Language. While other counties in the Bay Area already have a "vial of life" program to store and identify medical information, San Francisco Life Line goes one step further to address the various language needs of our citizens.
About the Life LineTeam
Dedication. Community. Passion.