A young man has stopped breathing in a supermarket toilet. A pedestrian with a nasty head injury won’t let the crew near him on a busy road. A newborn baby is worryingly silent. An addict urinates on the ambulance floor when denied a fix. This is the life of an ambulance paramedic.
Jake Jones has worked in the UK ambulance service for ten years: every day, he sees a dozen of the scenes we hope to see only once in a lifetime. Can You Hear Me? – the first thing he says when he arrives on the scene – is a memoir of the chaos, intensity and occasional beauty of life on the front-lines of medicine in the UK.
As well as a look into dozens of extraordinary scenes – the hoarder who won’t move his collection to let his ailing father leave the house, the blood-soaked man who tries to escape from the ambulance, the life saved by a lucky crew who had been called to see someone else entirely – Can You Hear Me? is an honest examination of the strains and challenges of one of the most demanding and important jobs anyone can do.
Paramedics really are the front line when it comes to emergencies and even when it’s not so much an emergency but much needed attention of many kinds.
Our NHS takes a bashing but reading this memoir makes you realise the scope of what these professionals achieve, often with few resources and a whole host of work- this is at times heartbreaking, occasionally amusing and really paints a vivid picture of the sheer length and breadth of the different situations encountered.
The writing is sharp and involving, the events described as real as they come. I finished this with a new found respect for all of our medical staff who save lives every day. An important book to read.