Bad Call: A Summer Job on a New York Ambulance

Mike Scardino. Little, Brown, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-46961-6
In this fresh and powerful debut memoir, Scardino looks back on his summers during college in the late 1960s when he worked as a New York City hospital ambulance attendant. Working 56 hours a week—“Nights and days, whenever they need me”—Scardino recounts in short chapters the many emergencies he witnessed and assisted in that showed him “the entire catalog of horrifying things that can happen to a human body.” From accidental deaths to suicides, Scardino writes with the detail of a crime reporter (“What had been his left side had grown into the carpet. Just coalesced with the carpet.... Instead of a face, there was a flat oval plane covered with maggots”). Scardino admits that what bothers him “more than seeing how people die, is seeing how people live”: in one example, he describes a diabetic woman whose legs are gangrenous below the knees, who weighs over 400 pounds, and who needs somehow to be carried down from her second-floor apartment. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned on the job,” he writes, “it’s that any call, anywhere, can always get worse.” Scardino’s unsparing memoir offers an empathetic look at human pain and suffering. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/21/2018
Release date: 07/17/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-7282-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-7279-3
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