Monday, August 6, 2018

Review - Bad Call: A Summer Job on a New York Ambulance by Mike Scardino @littlebrown

Bad Call: A Summer Job on a New York Ambulance by Mike Scardino
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Date Read: July 26, 2018
Length:  304 pages
Source: Publisher
★★★★☆
An adrenaline-fueled read that will stay with you long after you turn the final page, BAD CALL is a "compulsively readable, totally unforgettable"* memoir about working on a New York City ambulance in the 1960s. (*James Patterson)

Bad Call is Mike Scardino's visceral, fast-moving, and mordantly funny account of the summers he spent working as an "ambulance attendant" on the mean streets of late-1960s New York.

Fueled by adrenaline and Sabrett's hot dogs, young Mike spends his days speeding from one chaotic emergency to another. His adventures take him into the middle of incipient race riots, to the scene of a plane crash at JFK airport and into private lives all over Queens, where New Yorkers are suffering, and dying, in unimaginable ways. Learning on the job, Mike encounters all manner of freakish accidents (the man who drank Drano, the woman attacked by rats, the man who inflated like a balloon), meets countless unforgettable New York characters, falls in love, is nearly murdered, and gets an early and indelible education in the impermanence of life and the cruelty of chance.

Action-packed, poignant, and rich with details that bring Mike's world to technicolor life, Bad Call is a gritty portrait of a bygone era as well as a bracing reminder that, though "life itself is a fatal condition," it's worth pausing to notice the moments of beauty, hope, and everyday heroism along the way.

My Review

I am a bit surprised by how much I ended up liking this book.  This book was quite a bit different than my usual reads but once I started reading this book I didn't want to put it down.  This may not be a book for everyone but it definitely worked for me.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read Mike's story.

I grew up watching the TV show Emergency and have been known to watch a re-run of the show every once in a while.  I like watching a medical team in action working to save a life and it is really interesting to see how things have changed in the field in such a short amount of time.  I was really quite interested in this memoir of an ambulance worker in New York City in the late 60's because that just sounds like an incredibly difficult job to have.

This book is made up of really short chapters with each chapter covering a different call.  If you are looking for resolution on every case, it isn't going to happen in this book.  The author takes the reader through the ambulance worker's role which ends at the hospital.  These are not boring cases being covered in this book and there were more than a few scenes that may be too much for any reader that is a bit squeamish.  I like a little bit of blood and gore so it worked well for me.

I think that one of the main strengths of this book was the author's ability to really bring these situations to life.  The descriptions were very well done and I was able to easily visualize the scenes as Mike went through his days on the job.  As the book progresses, we also see what kind of impact this difficult job has had on the young man just trying to do a good job.  It was really very interesting to me how much this work has changed over the years and couldn't imagine having to do this kind of work without some basic precautions such as gloves.

I would recommend this book to others.  There are quite a few scenes in this book that will stay with me for a long time.  I have a lot of respect for anyone that works in the medical field day in and day out and think that the obstacles facing an ambulance worker out in the field would make the job quite challenging.  Mike Scardino has a gift for words and has told a very memorable tale in this book.  I wouldn't hesitate to read more of his writing in the future.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
About the Author

Mike Scardino is a native of Elmhurst, Queens. In order to pay for college, he worked on a New York City ambulance as a teenager, which led to his decision not to pursue medicine as a career. Mike eventually found his way into advertising, where his ambulance experience proved to be an unexpectedly useful fit. He is married to the woman he met his third day at college and has three daughters. He currently resides in South Carolina.

Author Links: Goodreads

24 comments:

  1. This sounds like a fascinating and unusual memoir. I'm struggling to imagine an untrained person being taken on as ambulance crew today

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    Replies
    1. Things have definitely come a long way!

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  2. I saw this mentioned on Booktube this weekend and am convinced now it's something I need to check out. Glad you liked it!

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    1. I am really glad that the publisher asked me to read this one. I don't know that I would have ever come across it otherwise.

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  3. This sounds fantastic. And I do like the chapters being a different medical situation too. Great review!

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    1. There are a lot of crazy medical situations in this book. Definitely kept my interest!

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  4. Even today I wonder about the level of training for people in this field. It has to be terrifying with the wide range of calls they get. And some of the calls end up as rather dangerous situations. Anne - Books of My Heart

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    1. I couldn't even imagine constantly going from one intense situation to the next. No way could I see myself doing it as a teenager or college age adult!

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  5. that's what I was telling myself, that it's a bit different from what I usually see on your blog but it's great to try new things mainy when it's good!

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    1. I do read a little bit of everything. This was a nice change for me.

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  6. My SIL was an EMT. I'm always fascinated by her stories.

    Yes! Loved that show Emergency, too.

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    1. At least this would be a job that would never be boring. Or maybe it would be in between calls!

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  7. It sounds like the short chapters really helped propel the pace of the story forward. Sometimes I read books and really enjoy them but am also aware that it won't work for everyone and won't be everyones tastes. But if it suits you and works for you that is what matters more. I am glad you enjoyed it ^.^

    My recent post: https://oliviascatastrophe.com/2018/08/6-mini-movie-reviews/

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    1. I thought this one was really well done. Such an interesting story!

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  8. I got this in for review and am so glad to see you enjoyed it so much :) I took a gamble when I accepted it because it's not my usual thing.

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    1. I hope you like this one as much as I did! I can't wait to read your review!

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  9. Replies
    1. If you like to read story that are pretty bloody at times, I would say to go for it.

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  10. I used to watch that show with my brother as a kid. He's a firefighter now. This sounds like a good book.

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    1. I would imagine that your brother has seen quite a few things as a firefighter. I have a lot of respect for all emergency workers.

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  11. Whoa whoa whoa. This one looks intense!

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  12. This sounds really interesting! I think I'd be a bit unsure too but since you really enjoyed it I think I'll give it a try. It's definitely different for me as well!

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    1. There are some pretty descriptive scenes involving blood and gore and some rather sad scenes but I couldn't stop reading this one, Katherine!

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