Requiring high levels of physical, mental and emotional stamina, the paramedic's life is far from easy, and their world is often invisible to those outside it – until the worst happens. Whether it's climbing down a cliff to rescue a paraglider or trying to revive a child after a car accident while terrified parents watch" paramedics strive day in day out to save lives against the odds.
Brett Stevens, author of A Hard Place: The Rise of Street Gangs, has spent decades working with those on the front line of emergency services. In Rescue Paramedics he brings together some of the most dramatic, the most heartbreaking, the most unusual and the most inspirational stories of these incredible people and their lives dedicated to helping others in the most desperate of circumstances.
Brett Stevens joined the NSW Police Force in 1982, where he served for 13 years. During this period, he worked in some of the toughest areas, such as King's Cross, the red-light precinct of Sydney and various patrol, drug and tactical units. From 1989 to the mid-1990s he moonlighted as a freelance photojournalist. Possessing a keen interest in law enforcement, Brett studied crime and tactics across the USA, interviewing hundreds of cops and publishing their stories in the international magazine market. He is the author of A Hard Place: The Rise of Street Gangs. A reservist in the Australian Army, he now works as a consultant in the field of risk and emergency management for a multinational organisation.
New Holland Publishers
Author: Brett Stevens
Question: What inspired you to write Rescue Paramedics?
Brett Stevens: Writing about the lives and experiences of front line emergency service personal has always interested me. Previously, I had written books and feature articles on police, fire rescue, gangs and the military but never anything on the medical field. Essentially, while the paramedics were always there I had never really seen them. From Kings Cross to the murderous streets of south LA, I saw the paramedics working to save lives but I had never contemplated what that actually entailed. That is until I became a combat medical attendant in the army reserve and found myself working alongside three combat paramedics that were drawn from the NSW Ambulance service. It was only after saving a soldier's life from heat stroke that I came to realise just how emotionally charged this line of work really is and eventually decided that their story needed to be told.
Question: What do you hope readers take away from Rescue Paramedics?
Brett Stevens: I hope readers, like me, come to better understand how intellectually challenging and adrenaline charged this line of work can be. Sure there is plenty of routine work but overall I found their world to be an emotional rollercoaster ride where only cool heads seem to prevail. I also hope that the reader comes to understand that there is more to courage than what we usually think of, or as I did from a SWAT tactical cop point of view did, as some of these stories are truly heroic.
Question: Can you share with us, one of the true stories shared in Rescue Paramedics?
Brett Stevens: Of all the stories it is the one of the farmer that comes to mind as it is a story of the triumph of humanity over true adversity. In a town surrounded by bush fire, the paramedics had doubted they would survive the coming cataclysm but when they did, they then had to work on a seriously burned 21 year old farmer. Medically speaking, he wasn't supposed to survive with such terrible third degree burns to 80% of his body but his will to live prevailed along with the hard work of the paramedics and medical teams. Two years later the paramedic ran into the young farmer on the street and to me, it was an overwhelming positive experience as I had been certain that he wasn't going to survive.
Question: How did you go about conducting research prior to writing Rescue Paramedics?
Brett Stevens: I met the paramedics through the army and after first building a working relationship with them I was able to get them to open up about their lives. So using my own medical knowledge and operational street experience, I was able to shape the paramedical stories that I recorded into a story line that the reader would find both entertaining and educational.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
New Holland Publishers
Author: Brett Stevens