To catch myself up with the 12 in ’12 Reading Challenge for EMS Professionals, this is my second book for March. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of reading Paramedic Buff to Burnt by George Steffensen (ISBN #1419602616). Yes, it’s a process. More on that in a second. Steffenson presents approximately fifty short chapters that outline some of the most memorable calls of his career. At the time he wrote the book, Steffensen was a street medic in New York City. He is currently working as a paramedic in East Baton Rouge, a move he decided to make when his previous employer ceased operations.
Few book reviewers would suggest that readers “go see the movie” before reading any given title, but this is exactly what I’ll suggest to you. In saying that, I actually mean two things. First, listen to Steffensen’s interview with Paramedic Greg Friese of Medical Author Chat. In that talk, he explains that he wrote and self-published the book after actors Nicolas Cage and Tom Sizemore did ride-along’s with his agency in preparation for their roles in the EMS-themed film, “Bringing Out the Dead.” Steffensen could see that the film would be a macabre portrayal of the profession he loved, so his wrote the book to show all the positive work he and his peers were doing in EMS. With about $800 of his own money (and probably countless hours of off-duty time), he self-published the book through BookSurge Publishing, a subsidiary of Amazon.com.
My second suggestion before reading the Steffensen’s book is to see, ”Bringing Out the Dead.” As a side note, it isn’t a good first-date movie, nor is it kid-friendly. I think Director Martin Scorsese put together an excellent film; but just like Steffensen, I’d be a little offended if it was essentially portraying me “on my home turf.”
After this, you’ll be ready to sit down and enjoy reading Paramedic Buff to Burnt. Each chapter is a short narrative of a noteworthy call from Steffensen’s career. EMS providers will recognize the author more or less follows a SOAP format of writing. Steffensen freely admits that he’s no writer, but I still give him a lot of credit for going straight from medic to author in a single leap.
If you’re into the research, management, or motivational aspects of EMS, this title probably won’t do it for you. But, if you’re a field provider who enjoys reading about some truly crazy calls, this book is for you. It is proof that every field provider has a story to tell, and that story is well within our abilities to write and self-publish. So read the book, and start thinking of the story you have to tell the world!