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A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe. In the aftermath of 9/11 Kevin Hazzard felt that something was missing from his life—his days were too safe, too routine. A failed salesman turned local reporter, he wa A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe. In the aftermath of 9/11 Kevin Hazzard felt that something was missing from his life—his days were too safe, too routine. A failed salesman turned local reporter, he wanted to test himself, see how he might respond to pressure and danger. He signed up for emergency medical training and became, at age twenty-six, a newly minted EMT running calls in the worst sections of Atlanta. His life entered a different realm—one of blood, violence, and amazing grace. Thoroughly intimidated at first and frequently terrified, he experienced on a nightly basis the adrenaline rush of walking into chaos. But in his downtime, Kevin reflected on how people’s facades drop away when catastrophe strikes. As his hours on the job piled up, he realized he was beginning to see into the truth of things. There is no pretense five beats into a chest compression, or in an alley next to a crack den, or on a dimly lit highway where cars have collided. Eventually, what had at first seemed impossible happened: Kevin acquired mastery. And in the process he was able to discern the professional differences between his freewheeling peers, what marked each—as he termed them—as “a tourist,” “true believer,” or “killer.” Combining indelible scenes that remind us of life’s fragile beauty with laugh-out-loud moments that keep us smiling through the worst, A Thousand Naked Strangers is an absorbing read about one man’s journey of self-discovery—a trip that also teaches us about ourselves.


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A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe. In the aftermath of 9/11 Kevin Hazzard felt that something was missing from his life—his days were too safe, too routine. A failed salesman turned local reporter, he wa A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe. In the aftermath of 9/11 Kevin Hazzard felt that something was missing from his life—his days were too safe, too routine. A failed salesman turned local reporter, he wanted to test himself, see how he might respond to pressure and danger. He signed up for emergency medical training and became, at age twenty-six, a newly minted EMT running calls in the worst sections of Atlanta. His life entered a different realm—one of blood, violence, and amazing grace. Thoroughly intimidated at first and frequently terrified, he experienced on a nightly basis the adrenaline rush of walking into chaos. But in his downtime, Kevin reflected on how people’s facades drop away when catastrophe strikes. As his hours on the job piled up, he realized he was beginning to see into the truth of things. There is no pretense five beats into a chest compression, or in an alley next to a crack den, or on a dimly lit highway where cars have collided. Eventually, what had at first seemed impossible happened: Kevin acquired mastery. And in the process he was able to discern the professional differences between his freewheeling peers, what marked each—as he termed them—as “a tourist,” “true believer,” or “killer.” Combining indelible scenes that remind us of life’s fragile beauty with laugh-out-loud moments that keep us smiling through the worst, A Thousand Naked Strangers is an absorbing read about one man’s journey of self-discovery—a trip that also teaches us about ourselves.

30 review for A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    Kevin Hazzard's memoir about being a paramedic. It is shocking, but I learned a lot about the physical and emotional toll the job takes on these professionals. Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone is able to do this job. I know that I couldn't. A Thousand Naked Strangers invites the reader to examine their own mortality or, if not examine it, just remember it like a literary memento mori. I, like most other people, want to pretend that I'm going to live forever when I know I'm not. A Thousand Naked S Kevin Hazzard's memoir about being a paramedic. It is shocking, but I learned a lot about the physical and emotional toll the job takes on these professionals. Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone is able to do this job. I know that I couldn't. A Thousand Naked Strangers invites the reader to examine their own mortality or, if not examine it, just remember it like a literary memento mori. I, like most other people, want to pretend that I'm going to live forever when I know I'm not. A Thousand Naked Strangers doesn't allow room for that. Hazzard's stories can be ridiculous, gruesome, or uplifting. This book has a little bit of everything. Why Kevin decides to become an EMT: (his first day of class) "...Alan (the instructor) tells us, right out of the gate, if we're not sure we can handle this, now is the time to leave. A couple of people laugh as though the mere suggestion is ridiculous, but I'm not one of them. I didn't grow up wanting to be an EMT, nor do I know if I'll like it. What I do know is I want to get hip-deep in things that matter." pg 19 ebook. He certainly manages to do that. Learning the ropes: "It's all so new, so foreign, so much like that period of childhood- first or second grade, maybe- when you're old enough to know you're alive and one day will die, yet young enough to still believe that a thin vein of magic runs just beneath the surface." pgs 26-27 ebook. I still feel like that, most of the time. Why Kevin stays: "Every word the radio breathes into the stale air of the station sets me on fire. EMS is the greatest show I've ever seen, except it's not a show, it's all real. No, it's more than that- it's reality distilled and boiled down to its essence." pg 59 ebook At times, I had trouble connecting with this memoir. He almost felt too excited to be out there... inviting disaster because he was going to be the one to pick up the pieces. I've never felt like that. Why it's so hard to read A Thousand Naked Strangers: "In a job where it's possible to scoop up a stranger's brain, it's important to have levity. But after a while, I lose the ability to judge which stories to tell my friends and which go beyond the limits of good taste." pg 90 ebook. That's it- in a nutshell. Finally, how Kevin's job is sort of like everyone else's: "Like a recurring dream, every working day holds the same frustrations, and the working days never change, they just stretch out for all eternity. For months I've wondered how it will end. Maybe I'll reach my limit and quit." pg 206 ebook I think, anyone who works a job for any amount of time, feels like this at some point or another. Kevin's job was simply more intense and invited that type of introspection more quickly. My book club picked this memoir as its monthly read. I'm not certain I would have ever chosen to read it otherwise. But, I'm glad I did.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Petra X is enjoying a road trip across the NE USA

    (Talking about dealing with crazies) "Over time, their normal becomes your normal." Review of this iconoclastic, interesting and well-written book to follow. Possibly. (Talking about dealing with crazies) "Over time, their normal becomes your normal." Review of this iconoclastic, interesting and well-written book to follow. Possibly.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    "In the beginning, it was all sirens and heroes and saving lives. A few years later, I hated the sounds of sirens. I'd saved lives but never enough, and I'd done heroic things, though never once did I feel like a hero." -- the author on page 258 Hazzard - a great surname for a person in the emergency services profession, don't you think? - is a writer / journalist by trade, but in the year after the 9/11 attacks he began re-thinking his career options. (He was an alumni of The Citadel - a well-kn "In the beginning, it was all sirens and heroes and saving lives. A few years later, I hated the sounds of sirens. I'd saved lives but never enough, and I'd done heroic things, though never once did I feel like a hero." -- the author on page 258 Hazzard - a great surname for a person in the emergency services profession, don't you think? - is a writer / journalist by trade, but in the year after the 9/11 attacks he began re-thinking his career options. (He was an alumni of The Citadel - a well-known military college in the south - though he did not pursue a position in the armed forces like some of his friends did, which dovetails with the tremendous respect he had for those courageous police / fire / medical personnel who perished at the World Trade Center.) Throwing caution to the wind, he enrolled in emergency medical training. A Thousand Naked Strangers details Hazzard's classroom education and then his ten years (2004-2013) working as a EMT-turned-paramedic out on the rough streets of Atlanta, Georgia (nickname: 'Empire City of the South'). He starts at a small, underfunded and third-rate ambulance service before eventually moving on to a larger, respected though quirky EMS agency connected to Grady Memorial Hospital, the largest medical center in the state. Responding to thousands of 911 calls in his rig with various partners, Hazzard gives readers that front-row seat to the heart attacks, drug overdoses, assaults, vehicle accidents, childbirths and all of the other weird stuff in between. What was of most interest in this memoir was that Hazzard realizes after several years on the job that he is burning out, a common issue with those employed in such a profession. (Routinely working overnights / weekends / holidays PLUS seeing the worst of what some people or nature can do to a human body will do that to any person.) Wisely, he chooses to step away and return to writing full-time - and parenthood, as he and his wife had two young children - for the sake of his own sanity at probably just the right moment. Fortunately, his book on his time in EMS is not exactly depressing or a total downer. Hazzard includes a fair amount of humor - much of it dark, but that's how it is - and sly observations about his experiences along with his usually staccato-style storytelling. (Post script: he later wrote episodes for the three-season CBS-TV series Code Black, set in a metropolitan E/R.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

    What a change for Mr. Hazzard. He was a journalist who after 9/11 decided to go to EMT school. It seemed the intensive training he received was almost impossible to grasp. It was like you learn while on the job and that he did. He was in Atlanta, GA in some high crime areas, where they should have been police escorts. We take these poor people for granted, like most first responders they see the worst of the worst. But we never consider what all they must contend with while trying to save a life What a change for Mr. Hazzard. He was a journalist who after 9/11 decided to go to EMT school. It seemed the intensive training he received was almost impossible to grasp. It was like you learn while on the job and that he did. He was in Atlanta, GA in some high crime areas, where they should have been police escorts. We take these poor people for granted, like most first responders they see the worst of the worst. But we never consider what all they must contend with while trying to save a life. Can you even imagine trying to carry a 300 lb person down a narrow staircase, while trying to keep them alive? I haven't until I read this book. It's filled with all the trials and the intense pressure that some of these people face on a daily basis. I found this book to be very enjoyable and also applaud Mr. Hazzard for sticking it out as long as he did. I would like to thank Scribner and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    4.5 Stars. My biggest takeaway is that EMTs and paramedics are not paid enough for what they do.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    One man's memoir of his time in Emergency Medical Services (first as an EMT, then as a paramedic). I learned a lot about EMS, and the book is chock full of stories about weirdos, if you like that sort of thing (I do). Personally, however, I found Hazzard's irreverent tone very off-putting. I get that gallows humor is a thing amongst people who see a lot of human misery on a day-to-day basis. I don't have a problem with it. What bothered me was all the stuff about "the perfect call," his obsessio One man's memoir of his time in Emergency Medical Services (first as an EMT, then as a paramedic). I learned a lot about EMS, and the book is chock full of stories about weirdos, if you like that sort of thing (I do). Personally, however, I found Hazzard's irreverent tone very off-putting. I get that gallows humor is a thing amongst people who see a lot of human misery on a day-to-day basis. I don't have a problem with it. What bothered me was all the stuff about "the perfect call," his obsession with getting a certain kind of case (gruesome but manageable) where he could try to save a person's life in front of a certain number of people (medium sized crowd), although in the end it didn't matter if the victim survived or not. Let's just say it's got me looking at paramedics in different, not all-together positive way now. I hope I won't be in need of any for a very long time, so I can forget about this book in the interim.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    3.5/5, rounded up. This book was very, very interesting for many, many reasons. The synopsis tells you what it’s about and the text does not stray from that. He’s seen some crazy shit guys. Aside from the content, I enjoyed the writing style. I found his dry, sarcastic sense of humor and passive aggressive wit enjoyable for the most part. My problem with this lies in the authors poor attitude. At time he seems very pompous, some of his descriptions lack empathy all together, and at one point he p 3.5/5, rounded up. This book was very, very interesting for many, many reasons. The synopsis tells you what it’s about and the text does not stray from that. He’s seen some crazy shit guys. Aside from the content, I enjoyed the writing style. I found his dry, sarcastic sense of humor and passive aggressive wit enjoyable for the most part. My problem with this lies in the authors poor attitude. At time he seems very pompous, some of his descriptions lack empathy all together, and at one point he points out that it’s rude for people to ask him what kind of crazy shit he’s seen on the job, but, that’s literally what this entire book is about. Seems very contradictory to me... I enjoyed the stories, and I couldn’t put this book down, but some aspects were very off putting. Had he approached different sentiments with a bit more kindness—or simply humanness (is that a word?)—I would’ve rated this higher. I probably wouldn’t recommend this unless someone specifically asked me about a book on this topic, simply because I don’t know of any others. I’m sure the content will linger in my mind for a while, but so will my slight distaste with the author.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    If you work in EMS or are curious as to what goes on daily in the lives of these amazing people-you will love reading this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    "Death cracks inside jokes that only we emergency workers—with our practical knowledge of the postmortem human—will ever laugh at." In A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back, former Atlanta paramedic Kevin Hazzard shares his memories of entering the medical emergency field, a sample of his ten years of experiences in the field, and how he knew it was time for him to move on. The book's dark humor and matter-of-fact style will make a lot of sense to m "Death cracks inside jokes that only we emergency workers—with our practical knowledge of the postmortem human—will ever laugh at." In A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back, former Atlanta paramedic Kevin Hazzard shares his memories of entering the medical emergency field, a sample of his ten years of experiences in the field, and how he knew it was time for him to move on. The book's dark humor and matter-of-fact style will make a lot of sense to many people already in the helping industry and may come off as surprisingly nonchalant and too frank for others. When you deal with life and death crises day after day and come across scenes that even Stephen King's imagination can't conjure up, you have to create some emotional distance if you're going to survive the field. But while reading, it was my true hope and belief that underneath the necessary detachment, Mr. Hazzard put forth tremendous heart and effort while responding to emergencies... and of course while very much putting his own life in dangerous and potentially violent situations time and again. As is true in the helping field, sometimes people can't be saved. Some of the people helped are ungrateful and they are relentless in showing it. Emergency workers put themselves at significant risk in order to get the job done with little recognition and pennies for compensation. And most of the bright, shiny eyes who start out thinking how rewarding their new job is going to be will burn out way too soon. If you are ever in the situation to require emergency assistance from an EMT, fireman, police officer, etc. and they have poor bedside manner, cut them a break. Traditional customer service does not always apply to these folks when the bottom line is saving lives. Their focus is elsewhere as it should be. These folks have seen it all and, based on this medical memoir, it's far from pretty. Yet they continue. Next time you bake a batch of cookies, set a few aside and go show some appreciation. My favorite quote: “But as always, lessons are drawn from mistakes, not victories.”

  10. 5 out of 5

    TL

    These men and women don't get paid enough for what they see and go through. Anyone can apply but not everyone will make it in the field. As I said before, reading these has given more respect for the medical professionals in these various fields and helped me understand their mindsets a little more. The calls the author went on with his different partners as EMT and paramedic were both interesting and some out there. A couple had me laughing a tiny bit (not at the people but just the crazy circum These men and women don't get paid enough for what they see and go through. Anyone can apply but not everyone will make it in the field. As I said before, reading these has given more respect for the medical professionals in these various fields and helped me understand their mindsets a little more. The calls the author went on with his different partners as EMT and paramedic were both interesting and some out there. A couple had me laughing a tiny bit (not at the people but just the crazy circumstances). His first job was certainly different.. though maybe there's one like it in other places in that field? *shrugs* There was one Call for a nursing home that had me grinding my teeth and mentally shooting daggers at the staff for that particular place. It feels weird to criticize the writing style but even though the content kept my attention, the writing was so-so at times. It wasn't the worst I've read but not the greatest in this genre either. Felt like the book could have been deeper in a way too. Would recommend this if you want to know more about this field but I wouldn't read it again. Side note: Narrator for the audiobook was pretty good. Excuse any typos or errors right now, typing this on a few hours of sleep.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alicia (thriller_chick)

    Having worked in EMS myself I absolutely loved this book! I can relate to everything that was said about questioning if you can do it and the madness of your first call. Knowing deep down that eventually THE CALL will come. Kevin is a great story teller, this was a quick and enjoyable book about his time in EMS from starting school until he decided it was time to move on. Being from the South I know the reputation of Grady EMS and wanted to work there myself yet I lived too far from ATL. There w Having worked in EMS myself I absolutely loved this book! I can relate to everything that was said about questioning if you can do it and the madness of your first call. Knowing deep down that eventually THE CALL will come. Kevin is a great story teller, this was a quick and enjoyable book about his time in EMS from starting school until he decided it was time to move on. Being from the South I know the reputation of Grady EMS and wanted to work there myself yet I lived too far from ATL. There was a good bit of humor in this book, some that most people may not be able to relate to if they never worked in this field. Going through everything you do in EMS does change you and people do get burnt out. I definitely miss the madness and excitement of it and being there in a patients true time of need. But, I do not miss the hours or lack of pay. It is nice to go home at a decent hour and to not be woken up in the middle of the night for something that could have waited. One thing that I realized working in EMS is that once you see the "dark side" of a city you never look at it quite the same.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am always drawn to anything medical and this memoir proved to be an eye opening and emotional roller coaster of a ride with Kevin as he started his career as an EMT. I worked in a hospital environment for 10 years but typing surgical reports in a medical records environment, so I was pretty far from where the real action, in the ER, was happening, but I was told many stories. After 9/11 Kevin leaves behind his brief I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am always drawn to anything medical and this memoir proved to be an eye opening and emotional roller coaster of a ride with Kevin as he started his career as an EMT. I worked in a hospital environment for 10 years but typing surgical reports in a medical records environment, so I was pretty far from where the real action, in the ER, was happening, but I was told many stories. After 9/11 Kevin leaves behind his brief start in journalism to try to find a job that will be rewarding and where he can contribute to something important, being an EMT seemed to be the answer for him. After completing his training he was thrown right into the thick of things, assigned to assist paramedics during their ambulance runs. This ambulance service sees some of the worst cases, responding to calls in the worst areas of Atlanta and transporting patients to Grady Memorial hospital which is located in the “seedier” side of Atlanta. The cases that Kevin describes vary greatly from some that are actually humorous to the life threatening. I felt as though a cover was lifted from the ambulance and I could see, feel and smell everything that Kevin described. This book is not for the squeamish, as it describes the bloody, gory, foul smelling, and sometimes violent and often bizarre situations that Kevin finds himself in. He works his way up to the night shift and for a while has a great partner and enjoys watching himself grow in experience. He goes back to school to be a paramedic and as such his word is the final decision in the treatment of patients. It’s a scary world out there, for sure. Kevin seems to thrive on the adrenaline rush and feeling of being in charge. His burn out starts slowly but once he has a family the long and exhausting hours on duty take their toll and he knows it’s time to stop. I think anyone would enjoy this book, it’s a glimpse into a world that we seldom think about but possibly will be a patient in, which will make anyone think carefully about who is attending to us in our hours of need. We would be lucky to have someone as dedicated as Kevin in that ambulance!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alicen

    I really enjoyed this book. It is a well written account of life as a paramedic and, since I love leaning about other people's jobs (as those of you who know me can attest to), for me this was a great read. I really enjoyed this book. It is a well written account of life as a paramedic and, since I love leaning about other people's jobs (as those of you who know me can attest to), for me this was a great read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    A wild ride is not even the slightest hint of an overstatement with this book. Honestly, I have no idea how paramedics do their job... Every moment was so intense and Kevin Hazzard recounted each moment with such vivid detail and enthusiasm. A Thousand Naked Strangers was filled with hilarity and sadness, darkness, despair, insanity, absurdity, hope, pain and pressure. Kevin Hazzard really just made you feel like you were catching up with a family member who you haven't seen in years, who's keen A wild ride is not even the slightest hint of an overstatement with this book. Honestly, I have no idea how paramedics do their job... Every moment was so intense and Kevin Hazzard recounted each moment with such vivid detail and enthusiasm. A Thousand Naked Strangers was filled with hilarity and sadness, darkness, despair, insanity, absurdity, hope, pain and pressure. Kevin Hazzard really just made you feel like you were catching up with a family member who you haven't seen in years, who's keen on telling you what their life has been like since you last saw each other. From his moving from the world of journalism to his entry into the world of being an EMT and the madness that ensued from that to his eventual upgrading as a paramedic and the things that he's seen... boy, I'll tell you... If you ever wanted to ask an EMT/Paramedic what it's like dealing with the things they deal with - this is the best, most thrilling and complex answer you're ever going to get. I felt like I was in the ambulance with him the whole time. Right in the thick of it with him and every partner he's ever had. You better believe that the shelf life on this job doesn't feel very long. I understood why every person who quit, quit. I understood why every person who gave up, gave up or got fired and the burn out, ohhh the burnout felt real as fuck. I felt like I was right there with him THE ENTIRE TIME. I was going to give this book 5-stars but the one thing that held me back was the fact that it felt too much like being wowed by pain, madness and other people's tragedies. Sometimes, I felt like this memoir was lacking a little finesse around certain people's issues and we could chalk that up to being a hardened veteran, but that's lazy. There are still some dignities you have to give to people's lives, deaths, and communities. A few times I couldn't look past the indignities and it made me raise my eyebrows so high, they were in my headback. Kevin Hazzard does take pride in being a working member of pre-gentrified impoverished neighborhoods, but being a person who goes in and cleans up and a person who goes in and gives back are different, even though in his occupation that's splitting hairs. Being truly apart of something and being a voyeur comes across differently with the words used to describe neighborhoods. I really don't give a fuck how down you are with the brothers and sisters in black neighborhoods, you gotta put some respek on the way that you handle the neighborhood and the stories that you're extracting from those communities. Especially, when you're obviously going back to a different community to sleep at night, as he described in his driving long distances to get to work and certain areas. There's an obvious white privilege in here that's hard to deny, and it smells like shit sometimes, so I had to knock off a star for that. Other than that; the book is solid and it is definitely a wild ride. You're never being oversold on the ride when reading this book. I really couldn't put it down.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    i loved this, what a wild ride but so much fun

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    A Thousand Naked Strangers is an interesting and fast paced account of Kevin Hazzard's decade long tenure as a paramedic in Atlanta, Georgia. At age twenty six, after just eight months of a part time course Emergency Medical Training, and a brief period spent at a rather disreputable private ambulance service ferrying around chronically ill and nursing home patients, Kevin finds himself riding shot gun in a 911 ambulance with a near burnt out partner, responding to calls in some of the worst area A Thousand Naked Strangers is an interesting and fast paced account of Kevin Hazzard's decade long tenure as a paramedic in Atlanta, Georgia. At age twenty six, after just eight months of a part time course Emergency Medical Training, and a brief period spent at a rather disreputable private ambulance service ferrying around chronically ill and nursing home patients, Kevin finds himself riding shot gun in a 911 ambulance with a near burnt out partner, responding to calls in some of the worst areas of Atlanta. EMS is the greatest show I've ever seen, except its not a show, it's all real. No, it's more than that -it's reality distilled and boiled down to its essence. It's life and (hopefully) death, and unlike the general public, I'm invited and allowed to wander freely amid the debris. So send me anything." Hazzard details his first few months on the job as he grows in confidence as an EMT, enjoying the novelty, despite a frustrating rotation of partners. However, it's not until he is teamed with Chris, a career medic, that he begins to view his job as a calling, and decides to upgrade his qualification to become a paramedic, eventually joining the sought after Grady Trauma service. Hazzard punctuates his narrative with sometimes bloody and often bizarre vignettes of injury and tragedy, severed toes, shattered skulls, choking dogs, angry drunks, and shirtless crack heads. Squeamish readers may not appreciate Hazzard's descriptions or his dark sense of humour that medicos are famed for, but I admired his candor. "I just put my hand in brain" "What'd it feel like?" "Squishy." Eventually Hazzard's service begins to take an emotional toll, it is a stressful, often thankless job and eventually the adrenaline fades. A Thousand Naked Strangers is a gritty, thrilling and compelling glimpse into the world of a paramedic.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Take a former journalist; make him a paramedic in a high-poverty, high-danger area for a decade; then turn him loose again to write about it, and he will play his readers like violins and make us like it. A Thousand Naked Strangers is a high octane, gloriously visceral ride in an ambulance and out of one, through Southeast Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you to Net Galley and to Scribner for the DRC. Since I read multiple galleys at a time and I loved this one best, I tried to feed it to myself in small Take a former journalist; make him a paramedic in a high-poverty, high-danger area for a decade; then turn him loose again to write about it, and he will play his readers like violins and make us like it. A Thousand Naked Strangers is a high octane, gloriously visceral ride in an ambulance and out of one, through Southeast Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you to Net Galley and to Scribner for the DRC. Since I read multiple galleys at a time and I loved this one best, I tried to feed it to myself in small nibbles, like Mary Ingalls hoarding her Christmas candy, but it was just too riveting and I could not stay away. At the memoir’s beginning, our guy is just looking for work. With just a few months of training, he can become an EMT. His journalistic career wasn’t working out as he had expected, and he found himself working as a paperboy instead, delivering the newspaper for which he had written. That’s about as rock bottom as it gets. He becomes an EMT; then he sets out to discover whether he wants to commit to the extra year and a half of schooling required become a medic. Once in, he’s hooked, not so much in spite of the risk and unpredictability of the job, but because of it. And when you think about it, what other job pays so very little, involves so much danger, and gets so little respect? Teaching comes to mind, but being a rescue worker trumps even that, particularly for the low pay and insane hours--holidays missed--to do it, a person needs to be young, and to be an adrenaline junkie. And for a decade, Hazzard fits that description. http://seattlebookmamablog.org/2015/1...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    "Life is a series of cycles—each nothing but new people, new memories, and eventually, a new ending." I've been working in the Emergency Department at the local hospital for 4 years now and there are very few professionals I admire and love more than our paramedics and EMTs. I've seen them rushing in from literal hell and never waver. I've seen them do more than their duty calls for. It was fascinating to see the world through their eyes for once. I only ever see the after. I know every word wri "Life is a series of cycles—each nothing but new people, new memories, and eventually, a new ending." I've been working in the Emergency Department at the local hospital for 4 years now and there are very few professionals I admire and love more than our paramedics and EMTs. I've seen them rushing in from literal hell and never waver. I've seen them do more than their duty calls for. It was fascinating to see the world through their eyes for once. I only ever see the after. I know every word written, every feeling and emotion. I understand the fear, the pain, the dark rush of adrenaline, and every dark morbid joke shared. "Death cracks inside jokes that only we emergency workers—with our practical knowledge of the postmortem human—will ever laugh at." It's a well-written read, even to those who've never spent a moment working in the medical field. It's eye opening with a brutal honesty that demands respect.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shereen Rafea

    I'm drawn to books where people talk about a day in their life and you get to be a fly on the wall into their world. I'm curious about what it's like to be a teacher, a doctor, a paramedic, a nurse and many more professions . Books like this help me understand and step into someone else's shoes. This was a decent read. Hazard gives you an electric , fast paced look at what a Paramedic faces on the streets , from the asthma attacks, to the shootings, drugs, births and deaths. He reflects on why h I'm drawn to books where people talk about a day in their life and you get to be a fly on the wall into their world. I'm curious about what it's like to be a teacher, a doctor, a paramedic, a nurse and many more professions . Books like this help me understand and step into someone else's shoes. This was a decent read. Hazard gives you an electric , fast paced look at what a Paramedic faces on the streets , from the asthma attacks, to the shootings, drugs, births and deaths. He reflects on why he choose this path and makes some great insights on the tole it took on his emotional health and on his family. It was not as good as " A Paramedic's Diary," by Stuart Gray, which had a clearer focus and was divided into cases, with clear themes. Sometimes, I felt jumps in this book and didn't always follow along. Overall 3.5 out of 5 stars. #ebooks #review #medicine

  20. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    I ended up returning it to the library, reading only about 1/3 of the book. Maybe it was that it was written from a paramedic perspective that conflicted with my nurse brain (doubt it, as I really do appreciate the role that paramedics play, they are indeed my own "phone a friend" in my work world). More than likely, the library got returned because I had other books show up that seemed to better match my reading mode. Might try and re-visit it again...but for now...so many book, so little time t I ended up returning it to the library, reading only about 1/3 of the book. Maybe it was that it was written from a paramedic perspective that conflicted with my nurse brain (doubt it, as I really do appreciate the role that paramedics play, they are indeed my own "phone a friend" in my work world). More than likely, the library got returned because I had other books show up that seemed to better match my reading mode. Might try and re-visit it again...but for now...so many book, so little time to read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pritesh

    Interesting peek into the life of an EMT medic. Now that I have read this book, I think medic is one of the most unappreciated job categories in society. The book is written with a lot of humor. Some of it can get morbid. Its a page turner. The author keeps it short and funny.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I've been wanting to read this since I listened to Kevin Hazzard speak at the Tucson Festival of Books back in March. He was funny and engaging so I immediately put the book on my "want to read" list but a lot of stuff gets on there and never gets read. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on the audio CD at my public library so I checked it out. A bit of serendipity which, for me, is always the best way to come to a book. George Newbern does the narration and he held my interest throughout. Kevin Ha I've been wanting to read this since I listened to Kevin Hazzard speak at the Tucson Festival of Books back in March. He was funny and engaging so I immediately put the book on my "want to read" list but a lot of stuff gets on there and never gets read. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on the audio CD at my public library so I checked it out. A bit of serendipity which, for me, is always the best way to come to a book. George Newbern does the narration and he held my interest throughout. Kevin Hazzard writes about his experiences as an EMT and later a paramedic. If you have any notion that these are highly trained medical professionals, the author will disabuse you of that idealism immediately. A lot of them get into it for the freedom and flexibility and they drift in and out of jobs, alternating between commitment and burnout. He doesn't give you a real warm feeling about having to call 911. I hope I never have to. He does have some witty and laugh out loud stories to tell, however. The piece de resistance is the story about the man whose wife/girlfriend wants to throw him out so he nails himself to the wall. If that story doesn't make you laugh, you must have broken your funny bone. Hazzard can help :-)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I'm not sure why I still read these workplace memoirs. I never really get much out of them, and I often feel like the author is self aggrandizing and trying too hard to make his mundane job seem way more epic than it actually is. At least being a paramedic in urban Atlanta could arguably be considered epic; there's death and bloodshed and it's obvious that paramedics have better stories than hotel doormen or travel writers or other vocations that have been the fodder of so-so memoirists. Still, I'm not sure why I still read these workplace memoirs. I never really get much out of them, and I often feel like the author is self aggrandizing and trying too hard to make his mundane job seem way more epic than it actually is. At least being a paramedic in urban Atlanta could arguably be considered epic; there's death and bloodshed and it's obvious that paramedics have better stories than hotel doormen or travel writers or other vocations that have been the fodder of so-so memoirists. Still, I liked this book better than most work memoirs even if it hasn't really changed my viewpoint of the subgenre. Maybe that's because memoir strikes me as inherently narcissistic or maybe it's because I'm not particularly interested in hearing about what people do for a living. Hazzard--as great a surname for a paramedic as possible--is a good enough writer with a memorable voice. Each chapter makes up its own mini-narrative of varying quality, but often the narrative structure is clichéd with each chapter ending in a punchline, a full circle callback or an ominous portent of doom. It's not bad writing necessary; it's just predictable. Individual anecdotes are fun and often intriguing, and there's a memorable cast of fellow medics, victims, schizophrenics and crack addicts. I guess the biggest issue is the lack of pathos in each of these encounters. Hazzard isn't callous, but this is clearly a story about himself with any social criticism or analysis incidental, which is a shame because a paramedic's perspective on the sociocultural, economic and, most important, medical industry failings of the contemporary United States would make for a much better book than this one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    Meet Author Kevin Hazzard, a Grady Memorial Hospital EMT turned paramedic, an inspired soul who wanted to make a change and a difference after 9/11. Here in the years following and in our May book choice, A Thousand Naked Strangers, he's working the raw streets of Hotlanta via ambulance. With wit, charm, and a spare-no-detail writing passion, the multi-talented Kevin Hazzard has taken us all on a narrative ride of his life in the fast lane, from a nervous wonder, chomping-at-the-bit beginning, t Meet Author Kevin Hazzard, a Grady Memorial Hospital EMT turned paramedic, an inspired soul who wanted to make a change and a difference after 9/11. Here in the years following and in our May book choice, A Thousand Naked Strangers, he's working the raw streets of Hotlanta via ambulance. With wit, charm, and a spare-no-detail writing passion, the multi-talented Kevin Hazzard has taken us all on a narrative ride of his life in the fast lane, from a nervous wonder, chomping-at-the-bit beginning, to a humbling, exhausting end. We cringed; this book will shock you silly. At times we laughed; Kevin is a cool guy I think we'd all like to meet, thank, and shake his hand one day. Mostly we wondered how on earth this savior, along with all other first responders to the madness in this world, surely doesn't lose his mind. With grace under pressure and an intimate heart, Kevin's words will open your eyes to an amazing profession that deserves the highest of respects. To all EMT's and paramedics of the world, the Mindful Readers bow down to you and your bravery and sacrifice. An awesome book with a MR average 4/5 star rating.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Since I saw the movie Bringing Out the Dead, I have been sad that I didn't choose to be a paramedic. One of my best friends from college had a brother who dropped out of law school his junior year to become a paramedic and I remember being so intrigued. It's the magic of being a doctor without the ego. He described it as awful, wondrous chaos and sometimes they had waffles. I immediately regretted my choice in career. This book was funny, gritty and realistic. Hazzard's writing is not the best, b Since I saw the movie Bringing Out the Dead, I have been sad that I didn't choose to be a paramedic. One of my best friends from college had a brother who dropped out of law school his junior year to become a paramedic and I remember being so intrigued. It's the magic of being a doctor without the ego. He described it as awful, wondrous chaos and sometimes they had waffles. I immediately regretted my choice in career. This book was funny, gritty and realistic. Hazzard's writing is not the best, but it's sprinkled with colorful words like "imperious." He tells an excellent story and I enjoyed every blunt word of it. And it has a killer closing line. It totally makes me feel like I missed out on something awesome when I settled for shuffling papers, but then there is my germ phobia. Five big, shiny stars from me! I heart this book!

  26. 5 out of 5

    CL

    ARC received from: Netgalley Rating: 4* Cover: Yay One-Sentence Summary: An inside look at the professional life of an EMT/paramedic in Atlanta Review: This book was really interesting and I felt like I got a full account of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was a bit gory in places but that was to be expected given the subject matter. I would definitely recommend to people wanting to find out what the true experience of being a paramedic is like. ARC received from: Netgalley Rating: 4* Cover: Yay One-Sentence Summary: An inside look at the professional life of an EMT/paramedic in Atlanta Review: This book was really interesting and I felt like I got a full account of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was a bit gory in places but that was to be expected given the subject matter. I would definitely recommend to people wanting to find out what the true experience of being a paramedic is like.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I was intrigued to read this since my boyfriend is a medic. I enjoyed sharing some of what I read with him. He agreed it was all accurate. Sometime between reading about the man with maggots eating his face and the patient they checked for a rectal tone I looked at him and realized he'd been sheltering me from the worst experiences. Even though Hazzard says it doesn't necessarily take a special person to be a medic, I believe it does. I have nothing but admiration for this profession and the wom I was intrigued to read this since my boyfriend is a medic. I enjoyed sharing some of what I read with him. He agreed it was all accurate. Sometime between reading about the man with maggots eating his face and the patient they checked for a rectal tone I looked at him and realized he'd been sheltering me from the worst experiences. Even though Hazzard says it doesn't necessarily take a special person to be a medic, I believe it does. I have nothing but admiration for this profession and the women and men who step into the fray every shift.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Higginbotham

    A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back by Kevin Hazzard takes us into a world few of us see. Working as a EMT and then a paramedic in Atlanta between 2004 and 2013, Hazzard begins with a city filled with housing projects, drug addiction, and other problems as well as medical emergencies like heart attacks, car accidents, and asthma attacks. Hazzard witnessed the changes in the city, as gentrification and the demotion of housing projects changes the city. Yet, we A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back by Kevin Hazzard takes us into a world few of us see. Working as a EMT and then a paramedic in Atlanta between 2004 and 2013, Hazzard begins with a city filled with housing projects, drug addiction, and other problems as well as medical emergencies like heart attacks, car accidents, and asthma attacks. Hazzard witnessed the changes in the city, as gentrification and the demotion of housing projects changes the city. Yet, we get to see the inside of the occupation, the personal changes as he begins knowing nothing and leaves as an expert. We also see the tension with other first responders like the fire department and police. At times, paramedic’s expertise is ignored by people who have other ideas about how to handle health crises. We also see the evolution of Grady Hospital, once dependent on credit cards as ambulances filled their gas tanks from private station to where they have their own tanks to dispense fuel. The hospital also changed the uniform, recognized by people around the city, and the new CEO calls the patients customers. So, we see the increased corporate structuring of health care. Partners change and just as Hazzard goes though stages of learning and accepting the work and recognizing when he has burned out, so do his partners. Some are fired, some quit, since the system is rough. Hazzard worked the night shift, visits homeless shelters, housing projects and places where problems occur when many people are sleeping. You have to respect how he enters places other flee, but also the respect with which he treats his patients. There is a genuine appreciation for the many human conditions people face. There is poverty, under and unemployment, poor housing and many structural problems that he has to step around, treating the evidence of these problems but not the sources—however it does provide the readers with a deeper understanding of what we need to change. We have to think about the sources of many family problems and how we have to address them rather than running into the middle of domestic abuse. In terms of Hazzard’s own family, the work has a toll. His hours keep him from a regular routine, but his wife supports him though the process, including having two children. Yet, as he is ready to leave, she is supportive. Hazzard’s sense of humor and appreciation for humanity make the book which could easily be heavy readable and informative. It is not the televised vision of the work, but the grim, blood, urine and also the cleaning up of a messy ambulance that makes the reading real. In a time when we have to rethink our responses to emergencies of many sorts, it is good to see how the trip to the hospital is a central part of the equation. I’ve had four rides in an ambulance, two where I was conscious and two where I was unconscious, but I am grateful for the skills and comfort of those who cared for me regardless of my awareness. We can all learn about the up and down in occupations that are not our own. I understand this one better.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    If you think life as a paramedic is crazy, you're probably right. And this wonderfully written memoir proves it. The stories range from the macabre to the bizarre to the downright hilarious. What I love about this memoir is that it's more than a collection of vignettes. There's actually a story arc as the author progresses from EMT class to his first call... and all the ups and downs of working as a paramedic out of one of the busiest hospitals in the U.S. One of the most interesting questions tha If you think life as a paramedic is crazy, you're probably right. And this wonderfully written memoir proves it. The stories range from the macabre to the bizarre to the downright hilarious. What I love about this memoir is that it's more than a collection of vignettes. There's actually a story arc as the author progresses from EMT class to his first call... and all the ups and downs of working as a paramedic out of one of the busiest hospitals in the U.S. One of the most interesting questions that recurs throughout the book is: "What does the Perfect Call look like?" The author and his partner discuss it at length, then after seeing a patient to the ER, they talk about whether that specific call was perfect or not... or what would have had to have been different for the call to be perfect. Towards the middle and end of the book, the story goes in some unexpected-but-gratifying directions, including the birth of the author's first child; reflections on how his career has impacted him and his wife; and his eventual realization that it's time to "hang up his cleats" and quit his job as a paramedic. This memoir is highly entertaining and very much worth reading -- assuming, of course, you can handle disturbing descriptions of traumatic injuries and dead people.

  30. 5 out of 5

    CrazyUnicorn

    But as always, lessons are drawn from mistake, not victories. That quote from the book stuck with me. Because it's true. It's true in every aspect of our lives. I want to thank the EMTs, the paramedics, the firemen, the police, the doctors, the nurses, the security guards and every other everyday hero. These are the people who run towards danger to help others. The ones who do it everyday. The ones who are heroes. Thank you. Thank you for saving other people even though you sometimes have to ris But as always, lessons are drawn from mistake, not victories. That quote from the book stuck with me. Because it's true. It's true in every aspect of our lives. I want to thank the EMTs, the paramedics, the firemen, the police, the doctors, the nurses, the security guards and every other everyday hero. These are the people who run towards danger to help others. The ones who do it everyday. The ones who are heroes. Thank you. Thank you for saving other people even though you sometimes have to risk your own life to do it. Thank you. This book is well written and gives us a glimps of what it is like to be a Paramedic. What challenges they face every single day and with every call. I highly recommend this book. And to end this review here's another quote from the book But I'm not here for the diagnosis or the cure. I'm here for the blurry and frantic moments right after the injury.

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