Riding the Lightning: A Year in the Life of a New York City Paramedic

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780358652908. $26.99. MEMOIR
In his engrossing first-hand account, Almojera describes being a New York City emergency medical services responder in early 2020 when the COVID virus appeared and highlighted inequities and divisions in the United States’ largest populated city. This is a tale of resilience, told with a feeling for the grittiness, cultural vibrancy, and immediacy of multi-ethnic New York City. Almojera, a 17-year veteran of the FDNY EMS, explains that pre-pandemic, turnover among his colleagues was already high, and pay was low for employees of both New York’s municipal and its private ambulance services, even as they attended to victims of accidents, assaults, and suicides. He also shares the frenzied and addicting nature of his EMS work, defines paramedics’ medical shorthand, and gives his frank opinions of politicians and other public figures. Comparable (albeit pre-COVID) paramedic narratives include Kevin Grange’s Lights and Sirens and Patrick Ramsey’s Life, Death, or Somewhere In-Between.
VERDICT Fans of TV shows about emergency medicine will appreciate the fast, episodic pace and life lessons of Almojera’s memoir.
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