My Ambulance Education: Life and Death on the Streets of the City

Joseph F. Clark, Author
Joseph F. Clark, Author Firefly Books $29.95 (254p) ISBN 978-1-55407-464-8
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Paperback - 254 pages - 978-1-55407-447-1
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A ""distillation of eight years in three ambulances and two emergency rooms,"" this energized, gruesome collection of true tales comes from a University of Cincinnati neurologist who cut his teeth as an emergency medical technician (EMT). This faithful memoir of life in the ambulance lane and the characters who populate it-""unbridled heroes... losers with whom no one wanted to work""- contains its share of poignant moments, but is far from sentimental; at 18, Clark had to grow, quickly, a strong sense of gallows humor to deal with the gore and mortality. The author remarks that ""you can't have a conversation with an EMT... without hearing about blood, guts, vomit or death""; accordingly, the holy trinity of blood, vomit and feces is invoked on nearly every page. Stories about suicide attempts, stroke and gang violence abound, and, unsurprisingly, it eventually becomes too much for Clark, who burns out (like so many of his colleagues) trying to do the right thing. Occasionally clunky writing and a listless romantic subplot distract, but readers with the stomach for it will be drawn in by this high-speed, adrenaline-powered ride-along.
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