Monday, January 23, 2012

CBR4 #6: Emergency! True Stories From The Nation's ERs by Mark Brown

I work in a hospital. I'm not a medical professional, mind you. I am a mere officemonkey, making appointments, pushing papers, gathering information. But even from where I sit, I can still observe some of the patient interactions that go on. I've been on the phone with people who've yelled at me, burst into tears, chatted at me for more than half an hour, and a few 80 year old men who have flirted with me. I've been given gifts, and one time a woman chucked a clipboard at my head for no apparent reason. However, the department I work in isn't an emergency area. We're basically a M-F operation, and we usually close up shop around 6pm. I can't imagine what it would be like to work in a place that is open 24 hours a day and deals with people suffering from life-threatening trauma.

Mark Brown's book, Emergency!, is a compilation of short essays from emergency room personnel around the country. Some tales are a few pages long, some are just a few lines, but almost all of them are interesting. They're not organized in any special way, though there are some that are grouped together. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are both. There is a chapter that is all stories from nurses, and one that is letters from a single doctor, explaining how he has ended up totally burnt out. It's clear that working in an ER is an extremely stressful job (duh), but can also be quite rewarding. It's not the insane drama that television makes it out to be, but it seems that there are nights when unbelievably weird things happen. The human factor makes every shift an adventure, even if it's a "So THAT is the story you want me to believe about how that object ended up stuck in your butt?" adventure.

In general, I'd recommend this to people who work in the medical field, but anyone who likes stories of the human condition might enjoy it as well.

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