Medical adventures and introspective musings by a paramedic learning the ropes in Hartford, Conn. Canning is not your typical paramedic, if there is such a creature. His background includes 12 years of service in Washington, D.C., with Senator Lowell Weicker and later in Hartford when newly elected Governor Weicker appointed him to the state health department. Thus Canning, whose daily life centers on the nitty-gritty of emergency medicine, mostly in an inner city, brings to his work the larger perspective of a former policy wonk. He is keenly aware both of society's ills and of government's inability to solve them. There are enough gory details here to satisfy anyone's curiosity about just what it is that paramedics do and how they do it. Some 911 calls are matters of life and death, but others involve minor accidents or trivial incidents; thus the paramedic's day is an unpredictable mix of tension, action, frustration, and boredom, of racing against time and of waiting around. Early in his paramedic career, Canning worries about being good enough, and he writes honestly of his struggles to meet the high standards he has set for himself. Later, as his skills improve and he gains confidence, he frets about the status of his new profession. Canning bridles when patients refer to him as a mere ambulance driver or doctors snub him, and he glows when nurses compliment his work. Paramedics, it seems, don't get much respect. Nevertheless, at the end of a day's work, Canning the paramedic knows for certain that he has made a real difference in someone's world, a reward that Canning the speechwriter never received. A vivid account of emergency medicine that should go a long way toward generating respect for paramedics.