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Bad Call: A Summer Job on a New York Ambulance

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  323 ratings  ·  77 reviews
An adrenaline-fueled read that will stay with you long after you turn the final page. BAD CALL is a memoir about working on a New York City ambulance in the 1960s.

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 Sab
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 17th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2018)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  323 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Miranda Reads
4.5 Stars

Look, we'd love to stay and talk but we have to run.
There's more where he came from.
Heartwarming, heartwrenching and heartbreaking - this book has it all.

Mike Scardino, a young pre-med college student, takes up a summer job as St. John's Queens Hospital ambulance attendant (at the insistence of his parents). They think it will help him prepare for life as a doctor.

And wow. They were wrong.
I feel like I have a fucking gun to my head... Well, so much for th
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it

Movies and television programs about emergency ambulance services are popular, as evidenced by the success of the film 'Mother, Jugs, and Speed', and TV shows like 'Emergency' and 'Ambulance.' People are inherently curious about accidents, calamities, and medical emergencies, and "Bad Call" - which details the experiences of a young ambulance worker - is a real-life peek behind the scenes.

In 1967, Mike Scardino was an 18-year-old high school graduate who needed tuition for Vanderbilt University
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
What's the worst thing you've ever seen. Everybody has a different Worst Hall of Fame. As far as I'm concerned, every call we get (except most maternities) is a bad call by definition. Who calls an ambulance unless something bad has happened in the first place. From that point on, it's simply a matter of degree.

My dad and I never missed an episode of Emergency, that seventies "classic" about paramedics, firefighters, and the women who love them. Hell, I even sat through Mother, Jugs & Speed - a
Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

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 w
Montzalee Wittmann
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Bad Call: A Summer Job on a New York Ambulance by Mike Scardinois a book I requested and the review is voluntary. I could relate to this book since I was a nurse in an ICU in a small rural hospital where everything can to be patched up to go on or to be stabilized, or the closest hospital and only hope. Many of the things he talks about I also felt. I lasted more than a summer! Interesting read.
Edward Lorn
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author's note: I visually flinched when I came over here to write my review and saw that James Patterson had blurbed this. I listened to the audiobook after seeing my friend Barks give it a positive review, so I didn't have any idea what the smaller type on the cover said. Basically this introduction paragraph is my attempt to fend off the commenters who might cry foul at me reading a book that has been blurbed by an "author" I despise. So calm your proverbial tits, and let's talk about the book ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a morbidly fascinating book if you are into gross and disturbing and strange true accounts of real life horror (yeah, that’s me). It takes a lot to gross me out but this book managed to do it. I do not recommend reading it while eating breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.

Mike Scardino worked as what he calls an “Ambulance Attendant” to help fund his college tuition in the late ‘60’s. I think he wishes he hadn’t because by time the book ends, he seemed truly scarred for life after seeing a
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Remember the mid-70's TV series Emergency! ? Prior to DVD releases in the last ten or so years I loved, as a kid, to catch afternoon reruns on WFMZ, WPHL, or WWOR during the 80's and 90's.

Now take that show but imagine an R-rated version filmed in various Big Apple neighborhoods by Scorsese during his early Mean Streets era and you have Bad Call. Author Scardino was (initially) a Vanderbilt pre-med student who spent his summer / winter breaks earning tuition money as an 'ambulance attendant' - t
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Between 1967 & 1971, Mike went to college & paid for it by working on an ambulance. He didn't really want to do either, but he had a low draft number & Vietnam was waiting. Each chapter of this book is one memorable call. There are a lot of chapters. The writing is terse, but he still manages to fill in his thoughts, feelings, & enough background to draw each scene fully. Some are funny, but it isn't a pretty picture overall. Still, I'm really glad I read it.

I was given this book by the publish
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
As far as I'm concerned, every call we get is a bad call by definition. Who calls an ambulance unless something bad has happened in the first place. From that point on, it's simply a matter of degree.

When I was in my very early twenties, I worked for a while as part of the HR team for a hospital. My boss had worked on an ambulance for a time in his late teens/early twenties, much like Mike Scardino here, and over our lunch breaks, sometimes he'd regale me with a few gruesome tales. Don't get
Emily Arkhipova
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gritty, dark and compelling, on the surface, this is a raw account of the horror show of working on an ambulance in 1960s Queens. It plunges into the trauma dealt with and experienced by the author, who experiences a fall from innocence faced with reality's graphically brutal truths. On a deeper level, it's a profound story about the meaning of life, death and the downward slope in between.
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction
so i’m pretty much obsessed with paramedics. almost like i should go to school to become one or something...

obviously, i liked the book. the career has changed quite a bit since the 60s and it’s different in canada from the us but i still loved reading about what it was like to be an ambulance attendant back in the day. now there’s waaaaayy more education required so seeing someone work with basically no training was wild, i can’t imagine how they thought that was a good idea. his stories were
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
In this memoir, the author recalls his time as a NYC ambulance attendant in the late 1960s. Each chapter details a call they had to respond to. It's a compilation of intriguing stories, written with both compassion and self-deprecating humor. Enjoyed it very much.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!! It's well written and offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of ambulance workers and first responders of another era.

I found that the author did a great job of balancing the shocking, often quite gory stories you would expect from this type of memoir, with a good amount of humor, empathy, and truly touching stories. There's darkness and sadness here, but also many moments of humanity and kindness that are always somewhere to be found in these jobs, and I think many people
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I really enjoyed this book. It was fascinating. The stories were a perfect mix. Very good insight into what EMT personnel deal with at any given time. Written with compassion, humor and most of all, respectfully. I would like to read more from this author. Thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for the ARC of this book.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was better than expected. Bad Call is a collection of short stories from author Mike Scardino when he worked for 4 summers on an ambulance in Queens , N.Y. The job was to help subsidize College tuition and be an intro into a possible career in Medicine. This job seemed to have cured him of that notion. The reason for my low expectations had to do with the fact that these "Bad Calls" took place in the late 1960's, early 1970's. My thought process was how could it be exciting since it wa ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I ended up loving this book and connecting with the author, even though I found it hard to connect with his voice at the very beginning. The lack of proper punctuation, while I understand is part of the voice, is quite distracting sometimes.

The stories and messages portrayed through the book are interesting, touching, gruesome and heartbreaking. The author has some wonderful moments of reflection that stand out and caused me to ponder on the fragility of mortality. I thought that the juxtaposit
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book from Little, Brown and Company.

I breezed through this book by Mike Scardino about the adventures he had while working for an ambulance service in between semesters when he was in college.

Another review I read criticized the book for being quite negative and victim-blaming. While the book is gritty and unrefined, I disagree with those statements. The author notes that the title refers to every call an ambulance receives (with the exceptions of births) being a “
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc
Funny writing. Hope he made enough money from this book to get the question mark key to work.
Sue Williams
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone over the age of 16
Did you ever have the desire to be an ambulance attendant, now known as paramedics? Did you ever wonder what those guys do or see? This book recounts one 18 year olds experience riding in an ambulance in New York. He is far from 18 now but knowing a bit about New York and crime, I am presuming things would be similar today. I am a retired R.N. so I know that some of the gruesome things he describes really do happen. This is an enjoyable easy book to read. It is written in a casual style which is ...more
MaryLee Young
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great book! It had disgusting, gross, sad and laugh out loud episodes. And it felt like Mike was sitting there in front of me telling the stories. Well written, easily read. His lovely wife, Barbara, works at South County, how about that!
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a page turner. Scardino writes about some pretty gruesome events in detail but so worth the read. His sense of humor kept me going. A must read, I love his NY attitude!
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
This is a nonfiction memoir of sorts about the experiences the author had as an ambulance attendant to help pay his way through college in New York City in the late '60s.

As a fan of true crime, I am definitely interested in books of this sort, that show a side of life (and death) that most of us are not usually exposed to. It is like a whole other world.

The book is set up as short sketches, most just a few pages, each focusing on a different call that the author went out on, his thoughts, his co
Susan Fair
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved the unique style of this book - wonderfully captures the author's past self without making you overly aware of the older, wiser author. Bad Call is full of humor and humanity. I may have had to skim over a few maggot-intensive paragraphs, but I definitely recommend this memoir.
Aug 07, 2019 added it
This book definitely makes me appreciate our first responders. This young man saw things no teen should see. I would recommend it, but it's not for people who can't handle gory details. It also probably wasn't wise for me to read it before going to sleep because I had some weird dreams.

I have many questions and wished for a section that addressed a little more about the author. Why did he wait 50 years to write this. Why did he choose present tense for something that happened long ago. Did he re
Steven Yenzer
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this much more than A Thousand Naked Strangers, Kevin Hazzard's similar memoir of working as a paramedic. Both included the requisite number of horrifying stories and reflection on the effect of being exposed to so much death and violence, but Scardino's perspective was far more interesting to me. He seems like an artist at heart, and his empathy elevates Bad Call.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I grew up watching shows like "Adam-12" and "Emergency!". Every time I heard a siren in our neighborhood, I had to go see what it was. I wanted to be a firefighter when I was a kid, then I got older and realized my small stature would work against me in a highly physical job like firefighting. So I then decided I'd like to go into forensics because I have a morbid curiosity and well, what can you do with a morbid curiosity except use it, right? I'd started taking criminal justice/forensic classe ...more
Denise Prewett
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting book about how the author spent his summers earning money for school by being an ambulance driver in New York. Easy read as a story per chapter so can pick up and put down. Some heart wrenching accounts of what he and his partners had to deal with and also the emotional changes he had to deal with.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bad Call is a memoir about Mike Scardino’s summer job working on a New York City Ambulance. Every chapter brings to life various stories or situations that Mike’s responded to over the years. I couldn’t put this book down and wanted to read it every chance I could. I couldn’t believe some of the experiences he’s had and was constantly shocked. Give it a read! You won’t regret it.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
The publisher sent me this book for free after seeing that I had read and reviewed "A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back" by Kevin Hazzard -- a book that I loved. Admittedly, I have a dark sense of humor, and the Hazzard's wacky tales of his years working as an EMT and then paramedic in Atlanta had me laughing out loud. Bad Call was a fun little read, but not quite on par with Hazzard's book. I think there were a couple of key differences in the books. First. ...more
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