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Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself By Becoming an EMT

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3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  637 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
Five years ago Jane Stern was a walking encyclopedia of panic attacks, depression, and hypochondria. Her marriage of more than thirty years was suffering, and she was virtually immobilized by fear and anxiety. As the daughter of parents who both died before she was thirty, Stern was terrified of illness and death, and despite the fact that her acclaimed career as a food an ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Crown (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,277)
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CJ Ewell
Apr 24, 2011 CJ Ewell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having listened to Jane and her husband for years on NPR, I was quite surprised to find that she authored this book. A friend, who is an EMT, loaned this book to me. I am currently in an EMT-basic class and she thought I would enjoy it. I found I have so much in common with Jane. We are both middle aged women who chose to stretch our worlds by taking on a role in pre-hospital emergency care.

Really good read for those who are involved in emergency care or for those who could never imagine doing
...more
Amanda
Oct 25, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The stories about her EMT calls were interesting, but the endless talk of her depression, phobias, and other issues were too distracting. Woe Is Ambulance Girl.

I realize the author was trying to show the contrast between what she initially thought she could handle & what she ultimately had to do as an EMT. However, she constantly cast herself in a girly, "I'm too rich and scared of everything, and my custom cowboy boots are too fancy to deal with vomit" light that was really off-putting and
...more
Elizabeth
May 26, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved loved loved this book! I could not put it down--I read it in one day! Jane Stern is fighting depression and a series of phobias (that we learn stem from a challenging and sad childhood as well as family background) so at the age of 53 she decides to become an EMT! Reminiscent of Michael Perry's writing in "Population: 485" we laugh and cry as Jane takes all her coursework in the first half of the book and then puts her knowledge to practice in the second half of the book. She is so appreci ...more
Dree
I grabbed this book from a display at the library. I am familiar with the writing of Jane and Michael Stern--and their food writing is generally better!

Not that the writing was bad--this is a fast, interesting, and easy read. I found the really good parts to be those about the training, actual calls (even those that are wasted time--because those are a very real part of the job), and continuing ed. Those parts having to do with marital problems and the author's depression and loneliness were a b
...more
Heidi
I really loved this book - Stern's honesty and self-deprecating humour are very refreshing and I could really relate to her search for meaning and efforts to overcome her worst fears. Stern is not afraid to describe her struggles and triumphs in a way which made for some laugh-out-loud moments as well as some reflective ones. Working in the health industry myself I could relate to much of what she was describing, but I think this book would appeal to all readers who have ever thought about jumpi ...more
Kazzy
I usually love stories about EMTs, but this one is too full of the author's personal anxieties. I think those anecdotes are meant to be endearing and humanizing and motivating to anyone so inclined (yes, even you, riddled with neuroses!) could go out and do good in the world and good for Jane, (really! she's doing a wonderful thing, I do applaud her for that) but I found the navel gazing off-putting. Also, the fawning over the gorgeous hunks of firefighters is something you should maybe keep to ...more
Davida
Jun 19, 2014 Davida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish, memoir
I liked the concept of this book and I liked the challenge she set up for herself. Her descriptions of smalltown life were interesting and the writing was casual and funny, but sometimes a bit jagged, such as memories of her childhood thrown in at weird moments. Even though it was a short book, it started to drag at the end.

Here is a quote I liked:

p. 129
"I am so used to being fearful that when I have to do something brave it seems almost unreal. I find that I have the capacity to worry things in
...more
Sarah
May 26, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this. I was rooting for the author to overcome her anxiety and depression. She was very likeable, and I could relate to some of the things she went through all the way I've never struggled with anxiety on the same level she has. It was amazing how she managed to learn to be an EMT, I became so successful at it. It shows that people can do remarkable things they put their minds to it. I found learning about the training that goes into being an EMT very interesting at her stories ...more
Gwynivere
Apr 28, 2015 Gwynivere rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!!!

Okay, I have read many medical books, certainly more than most of my peers. I absolutely loved this book. I read it in less than 24 hours, a pretty major accomplishment for me, at least. The transformation from being a person terrified of everything that an EMT faces from claustrophobia (in an ambulance) to hating the sight of vomit, blood, or fecal matter was amazingly inspiring. Jane Stern writes with a certain fineness that is very intriguing and rivetingly funny. Yo
...more
David
Mar 03, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The Road Food author reveals her own Woody Allen-esque neuroses in a tale about being a volunteer EMT. A fun read.
Sheri Struk
Ambulance Girl is an amusing book about a woman who overcomes some of her fears in the process of becoming an EMT. She is anxious and depressed at times and has a tendency towards hypochondria which presents various obstacles along her journey as an EMT. She discovers she enjoys the camaraderie involved in being part of the firehouse, though she sometimes becomes discouraged by the many interruptions inherent in being continually on call.
I don't generally laugh out loud when reading books, but
...more
Ev
Feb 15, 2014 Ev rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction, 2014
This is a quick read and fairly entertaining. However, some of it is disturbing; such as the fact as this 53 year old, out of shape woman, with mental health issues has become a member of a small town Fire Dept, solely for the purpose of conquering her own psychiatric fears. She goes on a "call" and afterwards goes into the bathroom and hides while her partner cleans the ambulance, etc. If you are FD of EMS, this book can be kind of fun, just because of the sheer difference in how small town eme ...more
Kazen
Apr 25, 2015 Kazen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was charmed and entertained by this book, sometimes to the point of laughing out loud. I'm only giving three stars, though, because I realize I'm biased - I'm a medical interpreter and could see myself becoming an EMT if all Japanese suddenly fell out of my brain.

The best part of this book is probably Stern's voice - never self-pitying, never wallowing, often humorous, and a joy to read. Recommended if you're a medicine nut like myself or curious what a rural EMT goes through day in and day o
...more
Lauren
Aug 28, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jane Stern is a woman with her fair share of problems - from panic attacks to hypochondria to soul-crippling depression. A woman with claustrophobia and a fear of flying does not seem the obvious choices for an EMT, and her family, friends, and shrink don’t seem to be buying her sudden interest. From growing nauseous at the sight of blood to being physically incapable of carrying her classmate down a flight of stairs, it’s not an easy path to certification for Stern. However, it’s not until she ...more
RNOCEAN
Aug 27, 2010 RNOCEAN rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five years ago Jane Stern was a walking encyclopedia of panic attacks, depression, and hypochondria. Her marriage of more than thirty years was suffering, and she was virtually immobilized by fear and anxiety. As the daughter of parents who both died before she was thirty, Stern was terrified of illness and death, and despite the fact that her acclaimed career as a food and travel writer required her to spend a great deal of time on airplanes, she suffered from a persistent fear of flying and se ...more
Cyndy Otty
Oct 03, 2010 Cyndy Otty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction
An inspiring and heartwarming memoir simply because of the raw truth Stern details about her journey in becoming an EMT. She readily admits that the idea of becoming an EMT is quite obscure - she's a writer by trade, she's out of shape, she's older than most everyone in her class, and basically everything about being an EMT scares her. However unlikely, she does exactly that, pushing herself through every obstacle both mental and physical and by doing so manages to break her cycle of depression, ...more
Missy
Mar 20, 2010 Missy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
At 52 years old, Jane Stern had hit a rough patch in her life, suffering from too many phobias to name. One day she sees a sign for volunteer EMT's wanted at her local firehouse. On a whim, she signs up for the class. Despite all of her phobias, she passes all of the tests with flying colors and becomes a Volunteer EMT for the Georgetown CT Fire Department.

Her stories are funny and heart-breaking. From hanging out in the firehouse with "the guys" to going on a call to the AIDS Hospice facility a
...more
Joy
Jan 18, 2012 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five years ago Jane Stern was a walking encyclopedia of panic attacks, depression, and hypochondria. Her marriage of more than thirty years was suffering, and she was virtually immobilized by fear and anxiety. As the daughter of parents who both died before she was thirty, Stern was terrified of illness and death, and despite the fact that her acclaimed career as a food and travel writer required her to spend a great deal of time on airplanes, she suffered from a persistent fear of flying and se ...more
Denise
Oct 16, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, inspirational
I loved Ambulance Girl, it was funny and interesting to look into the authors' life of depression and satisfaction with a job that is taxing and demanding. I was an EMT before I went to nursing school and I could sympathize with the author 100%.

I laughed and cried and could not stop turning the pages of this EMT!
Some of my favorite lines in the book:

"I am at this point determined to specialize in shitless EMT events. I am also placing vomit on the no-can-do list, Frank tells us that a great man
...more
Brian
Jan 06, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a wonderful introduction to the world of EMTs for anyone interested in the field. It takes place in my home state of Connecticut so that surely adds to the allure the book had for me, but it stands well enough on its own without that connection. The author, who is a world famous food critic, did an excellent job of pacing without the need to fill the book up with gory action packed and the usually embellished trauma calls of other EMT books. I read the 200+ pages in 2 days it never ...more
Sarah Sammis
Jul 25, 2009 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: released, challenge
Jane Stern is a contributing editor for Gourmet magazine. She's also a volunteer EMT. She's been nicknamed "Ambulance girl" by the community she serves. Ambulance Girl chronicles her journey from hypochondria and depression to finding purpose as an EMT.

Each chapter reads like a short story, often focusing on similar training or rescues. Although depression played a huge role in Stern's life she doesn't dwell on it in this upbeat memoir. She also doesn't over state her part in any rescue and neve
...more
Rachel
Oct 16, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jane Stern writes about her journey of becoming an EMT - Emergency Medical Technician from considering it, to signing up, going through the class, and volunteering with her local small town Connecticut fire department until she is finally accepted as one of the guys - yes, the fire department is all men. She is a milddle-aged hypochondriac; anxious and scared about everything, and doubtful of her abilities. So I guess she is like an anti-hero. But she prevails and lives past her fears to do alri ...more
Homo Sapien
Sep 10, 2013 Homo Sapien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jane Stern was deeply depressed and essentially afraid to step out her front door. Her many phobias kept her from doing many things and enjoying her career which she shared with her husband, putting stress on her marriage of thirty+ years. One day she walked by the fire department and noticed a sign notifying her that they were hiring EMTs. On a spur-of-the-moment decision, despite her phobias and terrible fear of the dead and dying, Mrs. Stern signed up for the EMT-B training course and disprov ...more
Liz
May 24, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jane Stern, whom I recognize from her tv segments and books on “roadfood” – the cafes and diners and down-home restaurants across America – wrote this book which chronicles her journey to become an Emergency Medical Technician while battling depression and anxiety. It sounds dreary, but it is a funny and completely engaging story, which drew me into the life of the small town firehouse, and the life of the woman who found her home there. I liked this a lot – and I think I would like Jane Stern, ...more
SouthWestZippy
Jane Stern is fifty two years old,not happy in her life,needing a change and some motivation. One day while doing errands a sign outside the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Company caught her eye. It read VOLS. WANTED......FIRE EMS.
Facing her fears and depression she jumps in feet first forever altering her life.
She is very open, honest and yes at times arrogant sounding.
You can feel her growth and stumbles.
Mallory Burroughs
I usually do not like "true" stories, But this book was great. Maybe because I am interested in becoming an EMT or maybe it's because I relate to the author. The events she describes had me laughing at times and crying at others.I think it is a must read for those who think being an EMT is an easy or glamorous job, or those who are pursuing the field.
Andrey Sudarikov
May 15, 2016 Andrey Sudarikov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The key thing about this story is that it isn't about some brilliant EMT in shiny outfit professionally doing the job every time with a straight face. This is a book about a tired aging panicky person who is managing to overcome it as best she can. The psychology is very complicated and very human here. Definitely worth your time.
Nancy
Apr 10, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an accessible look into an unusual world. I can't imagine doing the work of an EMT, and somehow had never realized there are uber-generous people that are volunteer EMTs.

Jane's midlife adventure story is inspiring and she's unguarded in sharing her quirky, personal journey to a more connected life.
Andrea
Overall I really liked this book. If you want to read it, don't read the book jacket text because it tells too much. The goodreads text doesn't tell quite as much, but still a lot.

Anyway, I like memoirs and I liked hearing about how she became an EMT and the calls she went on. There were a couple chapters toward the end of the book that had very little to do with her being an EMT that were not so good. I thought about dropping a star for that, but it turned out ok in the end.

The picture on the c
...more
Mary Blye
Aug 03, 2014 Mary Blye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am now utterly awed by and in love with every fireperson and EMT who has ever lived. This has become one of my all-time favorite books. Jane Stern is an outstanding writer as well as a brave and warm-hearted individual. If I ever have to call 911, I hope I get someone like her
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