Volunteers cleaning up the streets of Baltimore saved two men from overdosing Thursday.
The men donned orange shirts that read “Operation Baltimore Cleanup” and were disposing of waste on Monroe Street when they saw two men walking erratically.
John Rourke, who volunteered his services as the head of All American Sanitation, told the Washington Post that he was shocked at the condition of the city. “I didn’t know that a city in the United States could be this bad. I’ve seen cities in Iraq cleaner than here. Cities shouldn’t be this bad,” he said. (RELATED: Alveda King On Baltimore: ‘Trump Is Simply Saying Your Communities Need To Be Fixed’)
Rourke and his team arrived in Baltimore in response to the national controversy that began with a Twitter spat between President Donald Trump and Democratic Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. Trump responded to Cummings’ criticism of conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border by describing Cummings’ congressional district, which includes parts of Baltimore, as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
Soon after, House Leader Nancy Pelosi joined the Twitter spat as she suggested Trump’s comments amounted to “racist attacks.”
Rourke says he wanted to go see for himself what the conditions were like in Baltimore.
“I started searching #Baltimore,” Rourke told the Post. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.” After looking at a Google Street View of the city, he decided to go where his help was needed the most. (Volunteer Says Baltimore Sun’s Post Suggesting Clean-Up Was Politically Motivated Is ‘The Last Thing Baltimore Needs”)
The U.S. Army veteran contacted friends who agreed to pitch in with their labor, donated clothes and even a garbage truck.
They didn’t know they would be in position to not only help a city but save two lives. Upon seeing the two men collapsing on the street, one of the volunteers administered naloxone that works to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Clint Scherb, 32, observed the men’s behavior and guessed it was drug-induced. A local resident raced over to Scherb with the naloxone. After Scherb administered the antidote, police arrived and the men began to show signs of life.
“If we had not come here and the locals hadn’t had Narcan,” Scherb said, “they would have died.”
“We came here to do one thing and God blessed us with another,” Joe Rivieccio, 38, told the Post.
Although Rourke didn’t find Trump’s tweet to Cummings very “presidential,” he says it nonetheless prompted him to help out.
“He was so over-the-top,” Rourke said of the president’s remarks. “You would want him to be more presidential. But it was so over-the-top that it got my attention. I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. It got me here.”