The EMS Book Club

   My daughter, Becky, has been fascinated by all things medical since she watched her father take tentative steps toward an EMS career 18 years ago. For her birthday last month, I wanted to buy her a book about prehospital care that's informative, well-written, up-to-date, irreverent, entertaining and not too technical--the EMS equivalent of, say, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, without the references to edible body parts.

   I couldn't find any nonfiction that met my criteria, not that there's anything wrong with the authors out there. I just think we need a source specializing in offbeat EMS literature--books that expose the underbelly of our profession while reminding us it's OK to laugh at things like projectile vomiting (particularly when the receptacle is an administrator doing a ride-along).

   Relax, I've got it covered. Here are six cutting-edge publications I've chosen for my very own, soon-to-be-financed-by-reverse-mortgages EMS book club. Let me know if any of these interest you. Operators are standing by, somewhere.

   I'm a Real Medic and You're Not--Forget all those life-in-the-streets tearjerkers--the ones written by "bleeding hearts" about bleeding hearts. I'm a Real Medic and You're Not targets EMS wannabes who prefer insults to insight. The author, a practicing microcephalic, warns in the first few pages that anyone willing to buy his book is, by definition, incapable of understanding the subtleties of even the most superficial dermal abrasion. Only medics certified before the Boer War are obtunded enough to tolerate the author's adversarial tone.

   The One-Minute Checkout--Tired of checking ambulance stock? Want more time to sit around the ready room and complain about low pay, frequent flyers, unsympathetic spouses, psychotic partners and pets that eat furniture? If so, The One-Minute Checkout is for you. Here are just a few of the labor-saving shortcuts you'll learn:

  • Fine-tune your "oxygen awareness." Does that D tank look full? Then it probably is.
  • Don't worry about checking drugs you hardly ever use. You've probably forgotten the dosages, anyway.
  • Gasoline is expensive. Fueling your rig ties up the company's money.
  • Miller blades are so '80s. They can sit in the slop sink for another 10 years.
  • Monitors are a lot lighter without batteries. Just remember to carry a few old EKGs in case someone asks. Make sure none of the strips show torsades (see "drugs you hardly ever use" above).

   Pass Paramedic! And Geometry!--This is an impressive compilation of scenarios that pay homage to both Hippocrates and Euclid. According to the publisher, students who read all 18,196 square inches of this text are 3.1415926 times more likely to pass their EMT-P and GED exams. Here's a sample:

   You're called to the scene of a patient struck by a rhombus. Your first action would be:

  1. Control bleeding with a rectangular dressing.
  2. Immobilize the patient on an elliptical backboard.
  3. Open the airway by rotating the mandible 17 degrees through an arc with a four-foot radius.
  4. Report "no patient found" and go have a square meal.

   This is, of course, a trick question. The answer is D because a rhombus is a two-dimensional shape that can't hurt you unless you're a cartoon character.

   Schlegel's Book of Silly EKGs--Dr. Schlegel discusses some of the strangest electrocardiograms he's encountered, and his creative approach to cardiac care, in this case-oriented offering. Readers are invited to anticipate Schlegel's interventions when, for example, he encounters Wandering Accelerated T-waves (Rx: rapid infusion of conducting gel followed by a prayer vigil) or Left-Right Ventricular Shift (Rx: call 9-1-1, then discourage breathing). But readers will find the biggest payback in Schlegel's "Glossary of Artifact," including such pension-imperiling traps as I-Left-the-Monitor-On-Paddles artifact and Cables-Cut-With-Clothing artifact.

   Great War Stories of the 20th Century--This comprehensive, entertaining anthology is best suited for folks who attend Third Watch conventions or have named at least one pet Rampart. Tales of dangling and mangling are divided into chapters such as "Power Tools for Venous Access," "High-Angle Intubation" and "Treating Hypotension With Reinfused Flashback."

   10,001 Practice Questions for EMT Entrance Exams--There are plenty of EMS workbooks out there, but only one devoted to that first big step: admission to an EMT course. Rather than follow the customary multiple-choice-question-and-answer approach, the editors save time and space by omitting both the multiple choices and answers. The result is a simplified study guide that will appeal primarily to existentialists. Here are a few sample questions:

  • I have two pagers, and you have three pagers. Which one of us has two pagers?
  • If Dick and Jane leave headquarters at the same time, when will they return?
  • When did Congress pass the Highway Safety Act of 1966?
  • What's your favorite bone, and why?

   Also available: Things Doctors Order; Chest Tubes for Dummies; Man Down! 'Cause We Dropped Him!; The Observer's Guide to Being of No Consequence; God is My Flashlight; and ESM for Dyslexics.

   Mike Rubin, BS, NREMT-P, is a paramedic in Nashville, TN, and a member of EMS World Magazine's editorial advisory board. Contact him at