The Lethbridge Herald
Books, Saturday, August 15, 2009, p. d8


Have you ever seen two lovers frozen forever in love’s embrace? How about gone picking through trash to find a severed hand and thumb? Or maybe spent a day covered in vomit and feces? These and more are the unthinkable experiences Joseph F. Clark talks about in his book “My Ambulance Education: Life And Death on the Streets of the City.”

An established author and scientist at the University of Cincinnati, Clark recalls his years spent working on an ambulance while trying to balance a college life. The stories he tells are ones filled with horror, dark humour, struggle, survival, miracles and even romance. Clark carries the reader along his emergency ride of screaming sirens, gunshots and bloody messes.

Though the book seems thick and full of pages, it doesn’t take the reader long to realize how fast they speed through the chapters. The book flows along very smoothly and always grabs the reader’s attention.

The stories are not a list of Clark’s experiences, but a continuous, flowing story. This is what makes the book so good, aside from the stories themselves.

The stories, although of a gruesome nature, entertain and give a good insight to the lives of the people who watch over us 24/7.

The book’s one shortcoming in my opinion is every chapter is broken up into sections that at times aren’t seperate paragraphs, which can make reading a bit awkward. The content of the book also is of a more mature nature and not for all readers. Nonetheless, the book does very well at keeping the reader engaged, sympathetic, thoughtful and, most of all, on a roller coaster of emotions.

Clark’s tone is somewhat cynical but he does not attempt to present himself as a superior worker or person, with his accounts of falling asleep in the emergency room after a 36-hour shift or becoming a patient himself and seeing what they go through.

His account also covers other aspects than the ambulance, such as his college life in the daytime, the boring paperwork included in his usually nighttime ambulance job, his romance with a fellow worker, friendships, the ER and the weird cases he sometimes had to partake in.

Speaking of the ER (emergency room), another small issue I had with the book was its constant use of abbreviations, such as DOA (Dead On Arrival), LAC (Laceration), or even LOL (Little Old Lady). The constant use of abbreviations can be confusing, as the author himself mentions, but is again another helper with the inside look to the lives of these diverse people and their jobs.

The book gives us an appreciation for the efforts of the emergency medical sevices and is an eye-opener to the everyday things we don’t think about that help or hamper their efforts in helping those involved in everyday accidents or crimes. A very good read in itself and a must-read for anyone with at least a small interest in the medical profession, “My Ambulance Education” is indeed an ambulance education for everyone.

My Ambulance Education Review

Reviewed By: Garrett Bishoff

My Ambulance Education: Life & Death on the Streets of the City, by Joseph F. Clark, Firefly Book, $19.95, paperback, 254 pages.

4.5/5 Stars