Foodies know author Jane Stern (and her husband, Michael) as the authors of nearly two dozen popular books on American food and culture. At 52, Stern found herself in the midst of a crushing depression, isolated, and plagued by a number of phobias. Ready for something, anything, to jolt her out of her funk, one day she responded to a “volunteers wanted” sign at her local firehouse in rural Connecticut, signing up for emergency medical technician (EMT) training. That fateful day changed her life.
EMT training, i.e., bootcamp
The story of the author’s journey through both the emergency medical technology training and her subsequent work as a volunteer EMT, Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT reflects both Stern’s signature sense of humor and her willingness to be honest with herself as well as with her readers.
Thinking she might be able to help herself by helping others, she subjected herself to the extremely rigorous training all aspiring EMTs undergo – a process she writes about with delightful self-effacement (No one would ever accuse Stern of being overly athletic, or even remotely so).
The positives – and pain – of an EMT’s life
It is when she starts actually working as a volunteer EMT, however, that Stern really dives deep. While she writes engaging of the joy of being able to move beyond her own issues by focusing on the critical and immediate needs of others, she also makes clear the particular pain felt by so many emergency responders, that of giving everything you’ve got to save a life, but failing.
For Stern, who was already dealing with her own emotional fragility, being able to close off her inner self from the tragedies that are often part of an EMT’s life became imperative.
Ambulance Girl has been called hilarious, poignant, fearless, an adventure. It is, in fact, all of these. It is also a completely engaging memoir of a successful woman in the midst of a crippling emotional state who decided to transform her life by taking a leap into the unknown. In many ways, her readers have benefited as much as those individuals she attended as an EMT.
Time for a study break?
If you’re currently taking EMT training courses or any of Health Education Solutions' stroke certification courses, this may be just the book to inspire you during your study breaks.
Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT, by Jane Stern. Three Rivers Press, 2004. 240p. ISBN 1400048699.
The information included in this article is based on the 2005 guidelines for CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular care.