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03 December, 2012
Book Review: Ambulance Girl by Jane Stern
Title: Ambulance Girl
Author: Jane Stern
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publish Date: April 27, 2004
Jane Stern had hit her fifties with a thud. A successful food writer with her husband Michael, she had fallen into depression and had started collecting phobias, and her marriage of thirty years was struggling. A chance noticing of the volunteers needed sign outside the Georgetown, Connecticut fire station put an idea into her head. She was going to become an EMT. She, who had trouble helping herself at times was going to help other people in need.
So, she signed up for EMT training through the volunteer EMT program in her township. Despite her fears of being too old, too fat, and too squeemish, Stern found herself doing well in her classes. She passed the local exams, the practical exams, and the national board certification to become an EMT-B. In doing so, she becomes a member of a community of firemen and emergency response personnel that allows her to become more than she expected.
Ambulance Girl is a retrospective of Stern's first year as an EMT. She revisits her struggles through the initial certification process. Her first months as a woman in a male dominated fire department. We see her struggles with her claustrophobia, her fears of dying, and her ongoing struggle with depression. When a good friend suffers a brain hemmorage, and is "saved" only to end up in a long term care facility half the person he was, Stern starts to question her role as an EMT.
I was drawn into this story. I have read a couple of the author's food books, and found this chapter of her life enthralling to read. She shares her journey from neurotic and depressed to the first female officer of the fire station (station secretary) in a way that is both humorous and warm. I found myself turning page after page wanting to know how she was going to handle the next situation.