A Vicarious Ride-Along with a Paramedic

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A man leaves his comfortable career as a reporter and dives into the constantly chaotic and unpredictable world of Emergency Medical Service (EMS). He transforms from a frequently frightened novice to a confident seasoned paramedic who often works in the worst parts of Atlanta. This is the story of Kevin Hazzard’s book A Thousand Naked Strangers: a Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back. This book kept me on the edge of my seat because it’s drama, the way it was written and my interest in the author’s journey of challenging himself with a bold career change.

As I read the book, I vicariously witnessed the tragedy, exhilaration, fear, exhaustion, and wonder. One of the memorable ways Hazzard tells his stories is through the descriptions of small details. These details include the internal (e.g. his body temperature fluctuations during a serious call); the ubiquitous (e.g. a rhinestone-dotted cell phone of a woman threatening suicide); the macabre (e.g. human remains on the pavement following a car accident); and the strange (e.g. a partner with a fear of birds). Other minutia illustrates tales that are insane, outrageous, miraculous, and funny. Nevertheless, Hazzard’s descriptions make his stories unique, accessible and evocative.

A Thousand Naked Strangers goes beyond tales of wild experiences. Hazzard constantly searches for the good, the humor, the lessons and the meaning in his stories. This quest gives his book a poetic realism that is very memorable and inspirational – creatively and personally. This book motivated me to keep writing and to write more vividly. Hazzard’s journey inspired me to search for new ways to challenge myself in my career and in my life.

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