A tribute to the New York City Police Department Emergency Service -- ESD -- which answers as many as 46,000 distress calls each year, on land, sea and air. Egan, a New York Post reporter, ticks off the categories: the shoot-outs (from that with Two Gun Crowley in 1931, who left a snappy death note for his Cagney-inspired end -- ""put a lily in my hand, let the boys know how they'll look"" -- to a 1973 cliff-hanger in which the gunmen surrendered); the trapped (in cars, underground, in pipes and elevators or in extremis, like the man whose private parts were suctioned by a vacuum cleaner hose -- ""There's not much you can say to these people and even less they can say to you""); victims of catastrophes like air crashes, fires etc.; the problems of children and animals; air and sea rescues. The police commentary is illuminating as to approaches and techniques (leave room for maneuvering; never give the perpetrator the sense that it's hopeless; always get the would-be suicide talking) and appendices detail a formidable list of ESD equipment. But it's the machine gun recital of cases that will keep you reading -- it's not easy to stop at one.