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Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself By Becoming an EMT + Rescue 471: A Paramedic's Stories + A Paramedic's Story: Life, Death, and Everything in Between
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400048699
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400048694
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At 52, Stern, a well-known foodie-she and her husband, Michael, have coauthored some 20 books on American culture and food, including Roadfood-found herself profoundly depressed. Holed up in the couple's Connecticut home, she'd lost interest in doing much of anything. Phobias (bus riding, air travel, claustrophobia, etc.) made her isolation worse. One day, on a whim, she responded to the "volunteers wanted" notice at the local firehouse and signed up for EMT training. No one teaching "boot camp"-style classes would have tolerated a queasy (much less depressed or phobic) recruit, so she had to tough it out. Humor definitely helped. As Stern remarks, after a few classes covering major trauma, "I am no longer clinically depressed but instead am dying of everything simultaneously." Some of her class notes are funny, like her list of EMT no-nos: don't replace organs hanging from bodies, don't give CPR to a severed head, don't attempt to revive someone in a "state of advanced decomposition" and if "you have a patient whose leg or arm is partially amputated, do not pull it off to make things `neat.' " After training and certification, the real work started, and while initially it did the trick-"in helping others I learned to help myself"-the ultimate truth, that she couldn't save everyone, brought back her depression. Stern's memoir is a quirky mix of humor, self-doubt and courage.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In broad terms, this is a familiar story: a woman is dissatisfied with her lot, embarks upon a life-altering, seemingly ill-advised adventure that fills her with hope and happiness. But fill in the details, and you find a very unusual story, indeed. Stern wasn't just any workaday person; she was a writer, a popular author of more than 20 books, a magazine editor, and a radio commentator. Her dissatisfaction wasn't your typical midlife angst, but a deep and paralyzing depression that, by the time she was in her early 50s, had rendered her unable to travel or appear in public. And her life-altering adventure was, of all things, becoming an emergency medical technician, a volunteer job that literally put other people's lives in her hands. Making the switch from author of such books as The Encyclopedia of Pop Culture to EMT put a bit of a strain on both Stern and her husband, but it enriched her in ways that readers will find both touching and surprising. A remarkable variation on a time-honored theme. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book will make you laugh and cry all at the same time, while saying to yourself, "I know how that feels."
Sinda
Jane is truly an inspiration to any of us that reach an age where we think we can grow or learn something new even about ourselves.
Teri Brown
Jane Stern has a wonderful sense of humor and presents sad and unfortunate events with a wise and compassionate eye.
Silent Listener

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I first heard Jane Stern on NPR. Her story intrigued me and I bought her book. Jane has been in the food reviewing business with her husband for awhile- radio and Gourmet magazine. She found herself sitting in front of her TV, a real couch potato, afraid to move or go anywhere. Eventually Jane realized that she needed some expertise and assistance to help her through this period of anxiety and depression. Through a great deal of work and some pharmaceutical assitance Jane has learned to live through her depression. One outlet was to become an EMT- by helping others she is helping herself- she is less drawn to angst about her own issues. As a health care provider I can understand how you can become engrossed in other people's medical and emergency issues by helping them through this critical time, and how rewarding it is to know you were responsible for a litle piece of this person's care. Jane has also learned that she has to leave the dark, difficult emergency situations at the office, so to speak. She cannot dwell on those she cannot save or those stories too bleak to think about. This book conveys a story of depression that will be helpful to many- a method for surviving while helping others- that's what it is all about.
pr
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Ambulance Girl" is the absorbing true story of how and why Jane Stern, a depressed and anxious borderline agoraphobic, decides to become an Emergency Medical Technician. Jane was a 52-year-old writer for a food magazine when she realized that she was sinking fast emotionally. Her marriage was beginning to fray, she spent an inordinate amount of time loitering around the house in her bathrobe, and she suffered from panic attacks. Sessions with therapists were not helping.
Stern started to turn her life around with a new therapist, and she decided that in order to help herself, she would have to help others. She studied to become, of all things, an Emergency Medical Technician with the volunteer fire department in Georgetown, Connecticut. This was a strange choice for a woman who was emotionally shaky and chronically terrified.
"Ambulance Girl" is both hilarious and poignant. Stern recalls how she had to overcome her claustrophobia and fear of moving vehicles before she could ride in an ambulance. She also writes with wit and disarming candor about her many shortcomings. When she first started out, she made so many mistakes that she felt sorry for the victims who were stuck with her as their EMT! On various occasions, she found herself babbling incoherently into her two-way radio, forgetting her eyeglasses and watch when she went out on a call, and accidentally kicking the broken hip of an elderly lady who was lying helplessly on the floor. In spite of her initial ineptitude, Stern became a competent EMT, and she was gratified to discover that her work invigorated her and imbued her with a new sense of purpose.
Stern deserves a great deal of credit for lifting herself out of a deep depression and gaining the acceptance of the Georgetown firemen and her fellow EMT's. "Ambulance Girl" is an entertaining and unusual account of a brave woman's determination to face her fears and bring out the best in herself against all odds.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
First, this book is a joy to read. Stern's self-effacing humor ingratiates her from page one, and her adventures becoming "Ambulance Girl" are absolutely hilarious. But like the best comedy, this story isn't just laughs. It is underlaid with a poignancy that makes it a powerful example of someone who learns to overcome adversity, especially that kind of adversity that bedevils us from the inside. Ultimately, I found this book truly inspirational. If you like to laugh, and if you want to be uplifted by the power of the human spirit to find meaning in life, get on board and go for a ride with Ambulance Girl!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful book this is! I had expected Jane Stern's solo production would be well written and interesting since I have enjoyed her and her husband, Michael's, pieces in Gourmet and The New Yorker. But what a surprise! This book was so FUNNY!!! In fact, I cannot remember when I read a book that had me laughing out loud so many times. I knew "Ambulance Girl" was about Jane's saving herself, and thought, well, I guess it's another survivor story. And it is. But while so many of those other efforts are self-absorbed and in too many cases just trading one kind of self obsession with another, Jane avoids that. With a clear eye to who and what she is and without any self-pity, Jane helps herself by helping neighbors and strangers who are in trouble -- the kind of trouble most of us would much rather someone else handle.
Jane's writing is vivid and immediate, warm and moving and, gratefully, often hilarious. I loved this book. So did my 17-year-old daughter. Thanks to Jane, not only for giving me one of the best contemporary reading experiences I've had in a long time, but for being a great, dare I say it, role model. Thanks to her for not having liposuction, a face lift or an affair to make herself feel better. Thanks to her for doing something that really works -- getting out of oneself and doing some good. And thanks to Jane for putting it all down with sensitivity, humor and great skill. Buy this book, and don't be surprised it you think of this friend, and then that friend, who should read it, too. Makes a great gift!
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