My cousin recommended this book to me and I found this NPR interview with the author.
I probably wasn't going to read the book to begin with, but I'm definitely not after reading the interview. The biggest reason, I suppose, is that I've been doing the job almost twice as long as this guy did it and I don't really want to hear any more war stories. I don't find the EMS side of the job to be nearly as much fun as the Fire side and I still don't read firefighter novels. The details in the interview are what really ruined my impression of the book though:
1) He talks about how respiratory calls are more rewarding than shooting calls because, on shootings, "there's really nothing for you to do. That's really a job for the surgeons." It's a boggling statement - he had to have been on a lot of shooting calls in Atlanta. My experience has been that it entirely depends on how much damage the bullet(s) did. If it just lodges in some muscle and doesn't break any bones or put a hole in the head or a lung or a major blood vessel then sure, a bandaid and monitor will do. But if it hits anything vital and the patient can't compensate then all of the sudden there's a ton of work to be done. To say that there "isn't much to do" gives me the impression he never had a critical GSW patient or he wasn't doing his job. My best guess is that the statement was a careless attempt to reinforce the idea that respiratory calls are especially rewarding.
2) He talks about how patients who overdose on heroin will frequently wake up and become violent when given Narcan, the antidote. That's true, but it's always been true, which is why they teach that you only give enough Narcan to make the patient start breathing again - the goal is to *not* wake them up if you can avoid it. He hyperbolically says he's given it "10,000 times," so why is he still making the rookie mistake of giving too much?
3) He talks about two incidents that convinced him he needed to get out of EMS. The first was when he found a skull fragment stuck in his boot tread and chuckled about it, horrifying his wife. That's gallows humor - it's almost required, in my opinion, in order to help cope with the crappy things you're exposed to in the job. Yeah, someone who is completely outside of that line of work may think it's "sick" and it's not something you want to do in front of the public, HR, or the chaplain, but it's normal. The second incident was when he was on the scene of an assault at 2am, and he found himself yawning. He thought it meant that things had become too routine, and feared making a mistake. I think it meant that he was sleepy. I'd have never made it past the first year if the red line was a yawn.
Maybe there's much more in the book than just war stories. Despite my curmudgeonly criticisms, I would bet that if he's a reasonably good writer it would probably be a fun book for people who are not familiar with emergency services to read.