You'll feel the speed as ambulances scream along narrow streets, snapping off wing mirrors, and you'll feel the tension as paramedics desperately try to staunch the bleeding of a gunshot victim. With every yellow raincoat that passes him on the street he sees Rose again, reliving his failure to save her. He seeks this redemption on the mean night streets of NY, working with succession of crazy, burnt-out and sometimes just plain bad partners, gunning ambulances through red lights and cheating death at crazy speeds, getting in fights, drinking himself into a stupor and quixotically trying to help the family of a now brain-dead man whom he revived.
The main character, Frank Pierce, is a PARAMEDIC. The book is for those who work in the wells of the night. The plot isn't so much a plot, as it is, well, an orchestration of Frank's feelings. He's addicted to being good at his job, but lately he doesn't feel so good at it.
Super triggering if you have a fear of getting sick and needing an ambulance or the hospital. Then there's the way Frank's main patient, Mr. Burke, is treated at the hospital. His family are rarely allowed into see him, despite his critical condition; the doctors seem mystified with what to do with him, how to help him, other than keeping him sedated so he won't pull his intubation tube out and doing CPR and shocking him when his heart stops (multiple times a day for the two days he's in the hospital). Reading this is enough to make a reader, even one with no previous concerns (which isn't me at all), terrified of the idea of needing an ambulance or being admitted to hospital for any reason at all.
This novel, written by a former New York City paramedic, takes inside the world of the street paramedic working the night shift in Manhattan. While this book clearly doesnt reflect every paramedics experiences, even within New York City, it feels authentic and almost autobiographical, and is certainly informed by the authors own experiences.
i made it about one-third of the way through this book, about the scarifying experiences of a young emt in new york city, then i stopped. good writing, engaging incidents, exotic characters whats missing? bringing out the dead is concrete evidence that we need to feel (at least i do) that there is some forward movement in a story.
I identified deeply with much of the emotion portrayed, but some of the situations were incredibly unrealistic. Granted, I belong to the more current generation of paramedics, but a lot of the story seemed unrealistic to me.
There are some very smart descriptions, metaphors and analogies in his writing and he maintains an oppressive sense of dread throughout the book.
He drinks far too much, and keeps seeing the people he was unable to save from dying over and over again as he and his partner du jour (his partners, every one, have their own demons, kept barely in check) charge up and down the streets of Hells Kitchen, taking the quick and the dead and those in any possible state in between to the understaffed urban hospital of Our Lady of Mercy (called Misery by those unfortunate to be there). This was a deeply disturbing story; it takes a special kind of person to be an EMT, and among those who are EMTS in the worst possible situations, there are a wide variation of ways of dealing with the job and the horrors of the job.