on January 5th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
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Set in Georgia
A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe.
In the aftermath of 9/11 Kevin Hazzard felt that something was missing from his life—his days were too safe, too routine. A failed salesman turned local reporter, he wanted to test himself, see how he might respond to pressure and danger. He signed up for emergency medical training and became, at age twenty-six, a newly minted EMT running calls in the worst sections of Atlanta. His life entered a different realm—one of blood, violence, and amazing grace.
When I started reading this book I realized that I had missed some important information in my life. I didn’t know the difference between EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) and Paramedics. Basically, paramedics are trained to make medical decisions like what drugs to give and EMTs are not. They can start IVs and move patients but don’t make the medical treatment decisions.
To become an EMT a person takes a course and then has to pass a test. When the author did this, he entered into a whole new world.
His first position was with a private ambulance company. They mostly transport elderly patients from nursing homes to appointments. The turnover rate for employees was staggeringly high.
His goal was to work for Grady. That is a hospital in Atlanta that handles most of the inner city. Along the way he goes to paramedic school and has to deal with burn out after years of working in a high crime area with little to no support.
He sees people at their worst from dealing with arguing relatives to picking up mental ill people on drugs to getting an overdose patient’s friends to admit to what they had taken so they can help them. He has to deal with coworkers who are burnt out themselves from the hours and abuse.
The book goes into detail about what it is like to handle accident scenes and medical emergencies. It reads like having a conversation with anyone in a medical field where eventually you realize that the normal people around you are starting to get grossed out and you don’t understand why.