Healthcare for the homeless: First aid for the body and for the spirit

CREATED Feb 21, 2013

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  • Allie Hill helps the homeless with their healthcare needs.

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The homeless have no roof over their heads and few options when it comes to health-care. But a local high schooler is committed to changing that, one band-aid at a time.

Being homeless can test a person's soul.

"What is it like out there? asked 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito. "It's a nightmare, and it's getting worse."

But Allie Hall and her smile can light up even the darkest of nightmares. At just 17-years-old, she understands

"I walk past them everyday," Hall said. "You can't just turn a blind eye if someone's in pain or when someone needs help."

For several nights a week, she comes out to the main library. She's a Community Emergency Medical Responder. With a simple first aid box in hand, Hall cares for the people who rarely get care.

"We call ourselves the band-aid squad because that's what we do," said Hall. "We put band-aids on people."

But often times, it's about more than band-aids.

"I was laying there, bleeding to death," said Mitch Crawley. "They saved my life."

For Crawley, Hall is a person that makes a difference in the lives of a lot of people already struggling.

"She helps anybody with anything she can, no matter what," said Crawley.

Statewide cuts to health-care make Hall's roll that much more important. She walks around and asks the homeless, questions they rarely hear: how are you doing? How do you feel? Is there anything I can do to help?

"These people cannot get to doctors for the little things like cuts that can turn into the big things like gangrene," said Hall.

The ultimate goal to catch disease or injury before it's too late. And just maybe in the process, change a life for the better.

"You will never find a teenager like Allie," said Julia Toews, head of school at BASIS Tucson North.

Allie's work has a huge financial impact on health-care costs as well. Through early detection and treatment of illness among the homeless population, a local hospital like St. Mary's could save up to a million dollars in emergency room costs.

If you'd like to become a Community Emergency Medical Responder, click here for more info.