Trauma Junkie author Janice Hudson spent ten years as a flight-based trauma nurse for CALSTAR (California Shock/Trauma Air Rescue). During that time, she spent her days jumping into a helicopter ambulance with her co-pilot and fellow nurse to “fly out to accidents, scrape up the patients and try to get them to qualified care in that first 'golden hour,' when they'd have the best chance for meaningful survival after traumatic injuries." Trauma Junkie is a compelling memoir of Hudson’s experiences (and emotions) during that ten-year adventure.
Saving lives and limbs
The book is honest, engaging, but also realistically graphic in its depiction of the aftereffects of all sorts of medical emergencies - think car wrecks, bar fights, self-inflicted injuries, shootings, grisly accidents, and natural disasters for starters. As trauma nurse Hudson describes her life as part of a Helicopter Emergency Medical Services team based out of San Francisco, it’s clear that she thrived on the adrenalin rush of trying to save lives under the worst possible and most challenging conditions. But as the author also makes clear, fear was a constant companion whenever they lifted off.
Hudson’s account of her ten years spent trying to save the lives of the critically injured taps into the sometimes chaotic, always crisis-driven nature of emergency work. But she also convincingly portrays the heartbreak of losing lives they’d fought hard to save, especially those of children. In fact, death is a constant presence in Trauma Junkie, as would be expected in the life of someone risking their own life to save others.
An engagingly-written memoir
The book is an exciting read, thoughtful and well-written with delightful touches of humor interspersed with the adrenaline, and color photos delivering visual interest. Hudson’s writing style is fast-paced and engaging. Whether describing critically wounded victims, dramatic rescues, or moments and emotions shared with her teammates, she’s able to translate her fist-hand experience into language that easily connects with her readers.
If you’re looking for a nursing specialty that has you living life on the edge, this book may convince you that being a flight-based trauma nurse is just what you’re looking for. If you’d prefer your nursing career take place in the safer and more predictable environment of a health facility but enjoy reading about dramatic rescues and non-stop action, then this is the book for you.
Time for a study break?
If you’re currently taking courses toward your nursing certification, such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification, Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification or Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, this may be just the book to inspire you during your study breaks.
Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse, updated and expanded edition, by Janice Hudson. Firefly Books, 2010. 272p. ISBN 1554076145.
The information included in this article is based on the 2005 guidelines for CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular care. Read more about how the 2010 guidelines impact ACLS training online.