Woman offers homeless in freezing weather transportation to shelters
NEW ORLEANS - With temperatures expected to dip into the mid to lower 20s, B.B. St. Roman is making her rounds.
Tuesday night she traveled from the New Orleans Public Library to Claiborne Avenue checking on the homeless.
"I usually would start around 8 p.m. on a freeze night to go out and stay out until about 2 or 3 in the morning," St. Roman said.
St. Roman is the Executive Director of the NOPD's Homeless Assistance Unit. For 14 years she has made it her mission to transport men and women from the streets to the shelter.
"I have a ten-passenger van. And my job is to basically be out on the streets, and I will give people information where there are services to help the homeless and also to do transports. Some are ready to get up and go and others, they think they can tough it out and realize how cold it's gonna get and I have to do some convincing," St. Roman said.
Often times St. Roman says those without a tent are more than willing to go, but many have to be convinced that staying out in the frigid temperatures could seriously hurt their health.
"Last winter there was somebody I found who was, he was actually only 76 degrees. So his heart had stopped breathing and I rushed him up to the hospital. And they warmed him up and he survived," St. Roman said.
St. Roman says on the first night of the city's activation freeze plan, she transported about 14 people to shelters. Then on New Year's Day they transported 47 people. One of them had to be taken to the hospital.
Dr. Matthew Carlisle, an LSU Emergency Physician at University Medical Center says with the homeless and the elderly Hypothermia is their biggest concern.
"A person might get confused and a lot of times they'll get to the point where they become comatose and they may stop breathing and their heart may stop breathing," Dr. Carlisle said.
It's that condition St. Roman wants those out in the street to avoid. She's willing to do whatever it takes to keep them out of harm's way.
"On a night like tonight there's no way I can stay in, knowing that they're out there," St. Roman said.