A Trooper’s Gesture Brings Doctor to Tears

This week’s “Thankful Thursday” would like to thank two first responders whose roles are vastly different during this coronavirus crisis but are critically needed.

Minnesota State Trooper Brian Schwartz stopped a doctor for speeding along Interstate 35 and in lieu of a ticket, he gave her a warning and much more. At that time, the trooper gave her a handful of N95 medical masks that were issued for his protection by his department. 

“I burst into tears. I think he teared up a little as well before wishing me well and walking away,” said Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua, a Boston cardiologist. 

The N95 masks have been a persistent point of emphasis for many weeks among politicians, medical professionals and private industry as a vital and all too scarce tool in keeping health care providers safe from the coronavirus. 

“Trooper Schwartz noticed what appeared to be two used N95 masks in her purse that he assumed she was reusing. Trooper Schwartz had heard there was a shortage of personal protective equipment and thought [the doctor] could use the extra masks. All the troopers “are working hard during the pandemic and are thinking about all the first responders who are caring for Minnesotans during this critical time, ” said Lt. Gordon Shank.

In her Facebook post, Dr. Janjua said the shortage of N95 masks has left her afraid of not having adequate protective equipment, and in her darkest moments, she was worried about what would happen if she fell sick far from home.

Dr. Janjua was more than 1,400 miles from Boston when she was stopped byTrooper Schwartz. After seeing her driver’s license, Trooper Schwartz asked her what brought her all the way to Minnesota. She replied that she makes the trip monthly for work.

Dr. Janjua further wrote in her Facebook post; “The trooper quite firmly told me it was very irresponsible of me to be speeding, especially since I would not only take up resources if I got into an accident, but would also not be in a position to help patients. She felt the sting of his words, and I waited for him to write me a ticket. Instead, he told me he was going to let me off with a warning. As she struggled to apologize and thank the trooper, he reached in to hand me what I assumed was my license back. It wasn’t until my hand had closed around what he was giving me that it’s unexpected bulkiness drew my eyes to it. Five N95 masks, from the supply the state had given him for his protection.”

This quiet gesture on a highway shoulder in small-town Minnesota left Janjua feeling hopeful amid widespread trepidation and uncertainty.

“This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking.The veil of civilization may be thin, but not all that lies behind it is savage. We are going to be OK,” she wrote.

Janice Niederhofer