“It’s been a busy week. A bunch of idiots got mad that a 24 year old wouldn’t do flips for their amusement. Bob Odenkirk scared the collective sh*t out of everyone, and the House began its investigation of the January 6 insurrection.”
Whew. That was John Oliver’s introductory statement during Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight episode. And of course, that wasn’t even half the number of topics that Oliver actually covered. We didn’t get more salacious details regarding Oliver’s feelings on shirtless Adam Driver, yet before all was said and done, we did hear the host (delightfully) pronounce “tomatoes” while speaking of the 1% Rotten Tomatoes rating of Nic Cage’s Left Behind. He also took a swing at Joe Biden’s hair (“which I describe as ‘business ghost,’ also known as the ‘sane Doc Brown’ or ‘flat Jamie Lee Curtis’”) and how the U.S. is leaving Afghan Translators in the crosshairs of the Taliban while withdrawing from the War in Afghanistan.
When Oliver segued into his deep dive of the night, however, the subject was a very serious one: the ambulance crisis. Of course, Oliver managed to make the ride informative but entertaining as always. Not only did he introduce the vehicles as “big ouchie trucks that go ‘woo woo,’” but he also took viewers to Brussels, where they sound like “Mickey Mouse getting f*cked on a washing machine… in a good way.” Yes, there’s an animated visual, and it happens in the first minute of the above video. Then Oliver sobered up (with a few breaks) on the ambulance crisis, which involves issues of access, not only due to shortages but prohibitively expensive costs.
“Wow, we are out of ambulances. That is just not something that you want to hear.” That’s how Oliver began the essence of the issue, for which he detailed surprise bills (thousands of dollars for less than a minute-ride) that lead people to hail Ubers. Then there are the staffing issues due to alarmingly low wages for EMT workers, who probably have enjoyed citizen-led celebrations of their efforts, but uh, then there’s this realization:
“People clapping and giving pizza in appreciation was very nice, but it wasn’t a substitute for the things that they actually needed, like a living wage and health benefits. EMS workers around the country are shockingly underpaid, which is kind of amazing, especially when you consider how prohibitively expensive taking an ambulance can be.”
As Oliver explained, EMS setups are locally run and not considered essential in 39 states. That means that there’s nearly zero government-funding access, which is not only “a huge deal,” but there are around “19,000 locally run EMS providers with wildly different structure.” If you expect consistent regulation or quality there, one might as well give up. That’s only the surface of the show’s full-on exploration of the issue, but along the way, we received another amusing interlude, when Oliver once again summoned George Clooney by snapping, and then, Clooney summoned Kermit. It was a nice reprieve during a necessary discussion.