EMERGENCY! by Mark Brown


True Stories from the Nation's ERs
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 A mÇlange of some hundred vignettes--funny, sad, shocking, and sometimes almost unbelievable--gathered from emergency room workers across the country. Brown, an emergency room physician, persuaded doctors, nurses, paramedics, and physician's assistants to send him their own stories of life in the Pit, as ERs are called by those who toil in them. The result is a mixed bag. Most are one- or two- page accounts that show human beings coping with life-and-death crises, sometimes honorably, sometimes not. These accounts, all of which are signed, are not literary gems, nor are they meant to be. With some exceptions, they are stories that coworkers might swap at their coffee break. A few are sad and rather bad poems, and there is one series of letters on burnout written by a weary physician who eventually leaves ER work for an easy nine-to-five job. Perhaps most revealing of all is the book's ER glossary. Use of abbreviations like GOK (for ``God Only Knows''), and FTD (for ``Fixin' To Die''), and technical-sounding words such as ``Microdeckia'' (playing with less than a full deck) indicates both the callousness developed by ER workers and a commendable effort to conceal that attitude from patients. Although individual stories often have considerable impact, if too many of these tales are read at one time, the reader risks becoming jaded, which may be just the result that Brown intended: making the reader feel the numbing effect of that ``cauldron of human emotions'' found behind the doors of an emergency room. Writers of television's ER should find this a valuable resource, for it demonstrates once again that truth is stranger than fiction.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-44839-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1995


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