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Summary

A teenage boy lies on the pavement, bleeding from a stab wound; a distraught mum watches, in mute shock, as her daughter suffers a terrifying fatal asthma attack; a young girl is gang-raped and her stricken boyfriend takes an overdose; a disturbed young man flings himself in front of a speeding train at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

Few people can imagine living in a world where such situations are part of everyday life. Yet for veteran paramedic Lysa Walder, these and thousands of other emergency call outs are part of a day's work: scenes of tragedy, heroism, loss and horror - but also stories of triumph and humour.

Lysa has been a paramedic for over 20 years, working for the London Ambulance service - the world's biggest and busiest free service - for much of that time. Here, she reveals what it's really like to work in a job that brings paramedic teams face-to-face with death - and destiny - every day.

©2011 Lysa Walder and Jackie Hyams (P)2020 Bonnier Books UK

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Against the grain

So I got 4/5ths through this audiobook the narrator is engaging and it is read very well.

Content wise I was engaged for most of this, with a few small niggling concerns a. the descriptions of some people were using terminology that was demeaning and judgemental at best, you're able to describe individuals without being rude and that the spin the author makes is certainly that she is one angelic fantastic human being. I'm not trying to demean the profession the very rare occasions I have required paramedic assistance I have not been able to fault them, their kindness and calming nature whilst managing to work quickly and efficiently to save people's lives is astounding and something I admire. But the book came across in places as a bit of a love story to herself. But like I said this wasn't a huge problem as the cases were interesting and still engaging that I continued.

Until. Mental Health.. one case references an individual with a personality disorder. To direct quote "The doctors say he has some sort of personality disorder rather than a mental illness so he can't be treated by medication. A personality disorder is all about learned behaviour rather than a chemical imbalance in the brain which can be treated by drugs" for starters personality disorders are mental illnesses. Also another area where medication is concerned dependant on the type of disorder medication may be used or where not primarily recommended they will be used to treat specific symptoms and co-occurring mental disorders which is extremely common. (There is also some promising research regarding new mood stabilising drugs that may become useful however we cannot fault the author for this bit as this is very very very new information).
If we look at the comment of "learned behaviours" actually the MAJORITY of people have experienced major trauma (many of which has happened in childhood) and this then manifests itself in the VICTIMS as Personality Disorders.
My concern here is that reference to Personality Disorders in an offhanded and harmful way that listeners who have a limited understanding or limited previous interactions with these disorders have ingrained into their subconscious a negative bias towards individuals within this category. There are ten different personality disorders, which are grouped into 3 clusters based on typing. Then beyond that if we take just one of these formally in the UK Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), now known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) or in other circles EID there are 9 symptoms of which an individual needs to meet at least 5 in order combination to be diagnosed, this means there are 256 combinations and each symptom in its own right can then manifest itself differently in each person. So to attach an individual man's actions such a sweeping statement that engrosses a group of MENTAL ILLNESSES that the individual may have not even considering the highly likely coexisting disorders he may also be struggling with, Also the fact that he in himself is not just his diagnosis but also an individual.

Despite this infraction I continued, only 2 scenes later we have yet another Mental Health call. Terminology used to describe this man was absolutely disgusting including "pathetic, mad man, berserk, sinister, flipped. I find the words used to describe him shows a lack of empathy despite her claims to the contrary. I mean the author tells us she got a glowing review on this scene, the man "inexplicably trusted them [the paramedics over the police I wouldn't exactly say it's surprising]. The man is clearly in the grips of psychosis she provides evidence "mutterings" including " I must hurt, kill me" and to be fair he is holding a bread knife. Now she's given us the details herself in the scene the man is a harm to himself not once does she claim that he has made threats, that the knife was pointed in their directions, that he used vulgar language that he even raised his voice, so his actions are that the man is experiencing psychosis and is a harm to himself yet the author spins this which is once again harmful to the mental health community. it came across as she was trying to make him appear scarier in order to puff herself up, MH is easy to use to do this as there is still a prominent lack of understanding for the community. Again the harmful reference to medication making people feel much better and the authors approach that if individuals just continued to take their medication there wouldnt be a problem, this ignores the very evident string of treatment resistant mental illnesses, the fact that there are very real and extremely harmful side effects to these strong medications, these individuals many times are having to choose between what the lesser illness is, the fact that managing more complex illnesses may require regular medication tweaking since mental illness fluctuates, that medication may stop working and amongst many many other variables medication is very rarely the only form of treatment used.

Now my concern here is I have very little knowledge of the other areas covered in this book so I can not pick them apart. I am aware of these stories having damaging gross language. Which makes me concerned as to what areas of the book perhaps for instance alcoholism to which I am not as familiar may have also provided harmful bias into my subconscious that I may now carry around with me. I will not continue reading this book.

I'm sorry for the lengthy review. I'm not sure if this will affect other people purchasing this book or audiobook, but I wasn't able to in good conscious not say something.

8 people found this helpful

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Real

As a paramedic student coming up to graduation I absolutely loved this book and relatedd to it on so many levels.

3 people found this helpful

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Good listen

couldn't stop listening to this book. very insightful 👏 👌 👍 😀 🙌 😊 👏

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent

We can all learn something from this audible, well narrated too. Don't take my word for it.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it

Really interesting insight into the paramedic life. Really enjoyed it. I could listen to more Thank you

2 people found this helpful

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Eady to listen to

Very easy listen and made up of many short stories. Narration is good and the stories kept wanting me to hear more.
Finished this within a couple of days

2 people found this helpful

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Great!

Really enjoyed listening to all the varied stories. Very interesting. Easy listening with clear narration.

1 person found this helpful

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Career change book.

Great book
funny ,humorous, sad and uplifting great insite into the paramedic profession given me bit more inspiration into joining the service.

1 person found this helpful

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best book I've got

if you want to be a paramedic 10000% need to listen to this till the end

1 person found this helpful

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Cracking listen. Finished it within two days

Enjoyed all the stories. Hoping to study paramedic practice, so definitely was an interesting insight into their field of work.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Leah
  • 12-05-20

I loved every story

This book is about medical issues and accidents, but with none of the gore. It's more about reaching people on a personal level. It's about love for the job, and a passion to be ones very best-even in the face of chaos.
Highly recommend.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dawn M
  • 14-04-20

Just Like I Remember

I really enjoyed listening to this very well written book of stories, based on your life as a paramedic! I ran 911, in America, for fire and rescue for many years. This book took me back to those days. I was touched by the sad cases and laughed out loud by others. But throughout, it was clear how much you and everyone who takes on the Emergency career cares about all that we care for! Thank you!