Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: A THOUSAND NAKED STRANGERS, by Kevin Hazzard

Kevin Hazzard
A THOUSAND NAKED STRANGERS: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back

Two things. Aside from writing books, and book reviews, I do have a day job. I work full time as a Fire / EMS Dispatcher for 911 in my county. The second thing is, I rarely, rarely read non-fiction titles. When a friend at work was reading Kevin Hazzard's book, and the title caught my eye, I had to ask if I could pretty-please read it next. I am so glad he let me borrow the book! I only hope I can do this kind of book justice reviewing it.

Kevin Hazzard tells the story, his story, of first becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and how he made a living riding on an ambulance. The book covers --at,I am certain, a very broad, a very general level-- his nearly ten year career as a first responder.

The tales unfold in a chronological order, starting the classes, the instructor, and other students around him during his months spent earning his EMT certificate. And then landing his first job.

Hazzard goes through a host of partners, and readers we get a glimpse into first responder life. (Part of my found this book reminiscent of Bringing Out the Dead, the movie with Nicholas Cage. Only, unlike Cage's film --which I found dark, depressing, and hopeless, Hazzard sprinkles his narrative with humor, drive, and possibilities).

Covering call after call, readers run the gambit from patients with toothaches to corpses that have burst from decomposition. He talks about catching runs where responder safety goes from safe, to having one of the most dangerous nights of his career; from having patients die in the back of the rig, to bringing some back from the dead.

A THOUSAND NAKED STRANGERS also talks about working crazy hours, holidays, and weekends. It makes a point of calling attention to missed birthdays, and family events, and the strain such a career applies to relationships. Hazzard explains how his side of conversations are vastly different from friends and family not working in the field. Interaction just becomes different between him and other people.

Hazzard's love for the job, his dedication, his drive, and his determination take him on a hell of a ride. There are high points, and low; close calls, and pending lawsuits. We get to meet his wise wife, and a host of partners he shared his life with. Hazzard's writing his poetic, and captivating. The chapters are poignant and taut, and before you know it, you've read the nearly 300 page novel and are shaking. You want more. I want more.

Phillip Tomasso,
Author of the Severed Empire Series, and
The Vaccination Trilogy

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