A former EMT details his action-packed tenure in the field.
Journalist Hazzard’s (Sleeping Dogs, 2002) near decade spent as an Atlanta-area paramedic serves as prime fodder for episodes illuminating the stressful and often perilous life of an emergency medical professional. The author’s interest in the vocation surfaced in his mid-20s after a career as a reporter in post–9/11 America didn’t deliver the “pressure of life-and-death moments” he was craving. The EMT certificate program offered him the classroom time to “get hip-deep in the things that matter,” while the intensive, frenetic hands-on experience prepped him for the real work ahead. With blunt language and a raw narrative tone rich with gruesome detail, Hazzard immerses readers in the bloody, hardened reality of an emergency response team racing to accident scenes and overdoses and the personal panic over a dangerous needle stick. The author pairs his exquisitely queasy collage of bloody vomitus, severed toes, miscarriages, and other medical injustices with profiles of a hodgepodge of able work partners of varying skill levels and personalities who rode alongside Hazzard in the ambulance. Conveyed through anecdotes both thrilling and startlingly gory, it’s clear the author indeed became intoxicated by the adrenaline, the rush, and the rhythm of emergency rescue life and the need to be present “for the blurry and frantic moments right after the injury.” His adventures also illuminate the many desperate people in need of assistance. Yet after years on a beat rife with stressful urgency and hierarchal politics, his career crested and waned, followed by a complete burnout. With frayed nerves, exhausted patience, and a renewed focus on his own family, Hazzard ended his paramedical livelihood with a hard-won mixture of appreciation and relief, but his stories, immortalized here in compelling detail, remain.
A vivid, pummeling ride-along with an emergency paramedic.