Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua was traveling between her office in Duluth and Minneapolis when she was pulled over by Trooper Brian Schwartz for driving too fast.
Janjua was prepared for a ticket and a lecture, but instead, she told CNN, “… I thought he was just going to hand me my license back, but it turns out it was five N95 masks from his own supply.”
The doctor wrote about her moving experience on Facebook.
“He told me I shouldn’t be speeding because if I got in an accident, not only would I take up precious resources, but also [I] wouldn’t be in a position to help anyone,” Janjua said.
Trooper Schwartz learned Janjua travels monthly from her home in Boston to Minnesota for her job as a cardiologist. As she retrieved her license for the officer, he saw two N95 masks in Janjua’s bag. Janjua had been reusing the masks at her workplace, a coronavirus quarantine unit in Duluth, in order to conserve resources.
N95 respirator masks are in dangerously short supply at a time when healthcare workers need the protective gear to guard themselves against infection as they treat coronavirus patients. Doctors, nurses and other hospital workers are being forced to reuse masks, putting themselves at increased risk.
Trooper Schwartz let Janjua off with a warning and returned to her vehicle with five of the N95 masks the state had given him for his own protection.
“I burst into tears,” said Janjua, “And though it may just have been the cold wind, I think he teared up a little as well, before wishing me well and walking away.”
“N95 masks these days are worth their weight in gold, and for him to just selflessly hand something like that over, when he stopped me for a speeding violation, I can’t tell you what it did for someone that is very scared.”
The Minnesota State Patrol thanked the doctor on Facebook, “Thank you to Sarosh for her hard work and dedication… Troopers are working hard during the pandemic and are thinking about all the first responders who are caring for Minnesotans during this critical time.”
Janjua reflected on the trooper’s gesture, “I think we are all just hanging on to something that makes us feel safe. Somehow, for Americans, that something has become N95 masks and toilet paper. Trooper Schwartz’ act of kindness became my something.”