Duluth, MN – A cardiologist working at a coronavirus quarantine unit was moved to tears by a Minnesota state trooper’s selfless generosity during a recent traffic stop.
The incident occurred on March 21, after Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) Trooper Brian Schwartz stopped Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua for traveling 85 miles per hour in a 70 mile-per-hour zone on Interstate 35, the Star Tribune reported.
When Trooper Schwartz looked at Janjua’s Massachusetts driver’s license, he asked her what she was doing so far from home, Janjua explained in a Facebook post.
Janjua explained that she is a locums cardiologist, and that she has been traveling to the area every month for work.
After running her license back at his patrol car, Trooper Schwartz returned to Janjua’s vehicle to issue what she was sure would be a speeding citation.
“[He] 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,” the doctor explained in her post. “Feeling thoroughly chastised, I waited for him to write me a ticket.”
That’s when Trooper Schwartz told her he was letting her off with a warning.
“As I sputtered to apologize and say thank you, 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 its unexpected bulkiness drew my eyes to it,” Janjua wrote.
Trooper Schwartz had given her five N95 masks from the supply the state had provided him for his own protection.
“I burst into tears,” Janjua wrote. “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.”
The doctor acknowledged in her post that she and “all healthcare workers and emergency responders around the world” have felt fearful about the prospect of not having adequate protective equipment as they work to help people during the pandemic.
“In my darkest moments, [I] have worried about what would happen if I fell sick far from home,” she noted.
Trooper Schwartz’s act of kindness was about more than just giving Janjua extra tools to help protect herself.
“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,” she wrote.
According to the MSP, Trooper Schwartz said he felt compelled to help Janjua after he spotted “what appeared to be two used N95 masks in…[her] purse that he assumed she was reusing,” CNN reported.
In a subsequent interview with CNN, Janjua said that she had been reusing har masks in order to conserve the hospital’s supply.
“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,” she said.
Janjua said that her greatest worry is that healthcare workers will become ill and possibly die as supplies of personal protective equipment dwindle in coming weeks and months, and that the world will be left with a shortage of medical personnel when they need them most.
She said she is also concerned about her parents, who are self-quarantined back in her hometown of Boston, but noted that her encounter with Trooper Schwartz has helped to ease her fears to a certain degree, the Star Tribune reported.
“I have to say, illogical as it may seem…I have also worried a little less about my parents since I met Trooper Schwartz,” Janjua told the paper. “I know there are good people like him everywhere.”
“Thank you to Sarosh for her hard work and dedication,” the MSP said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Troopers are working hard during the pandemic and are thinking about all the first responders who are caring for Minnesotans during this critical time.”