999 – My Life on the Frontline of the Ambulance Service
by Dan Farnworth
Dan Farnworth brings vividly to life his astonishing experiences as a medic working on the frontline of the UK Ambulance Service. When the 999 call goes out, he has little idea what he will find – and how he will cope with the challenges he faces when he gets there.
Having worked in the emergency services for more than fifteen years, Dan Farnworth has seen it all. There was the time he was called to take away a dead body – only for the ‘corpse’ to jolt back into life and demand to know what he was doing in her house. Earlier in his career, he unwittingly disturbed a crime scene as he shared the sad news of the victim’s death with her son. Along with the 18,000 other paramedics in the UK who serve us day and night, Dan constantly finds himself pushed into extraordinary circumstances where he not only has to deal with those he has been sent to help, but also their worried families and friends – and even with irate drivers who object to his ambulance getting in their way as he desperately works to save someone’s life.
There is a special camaraderie among paramedics, and 999 – Life on the Frontline is packed with stories that are sometimes sad, occasionally hilarious, often moving but always inspirational. However, the work also takes its emotional toll, and Dan won an ITV NHS Heroes Award after setting up the Our Blue Light Campaign that helps those in his profession suffering from PTSD – something that struck him after a truly shocking event. His story will make you see our ambulance service in a completely new way.
“999 – My Life on the Frontline of the Ambulance Service” is a vivid memoir by Dan Farnworth, an experienced ambulance medic. I’ve read several medical memoirs recently but I’ve not seen many people talking about this one, which I think is a real shame.
I found this to be a really insightful read. The author describes some of his most interesting cases as well as the most traumatic, mixed in with some of the details of his personal life. Some of the stories were funny, some terribly sad and some really interesting. I have a great appreciation for the ambulance service and I really enjoyed hearing about the workings behind the scenes, including how decisions are made on who to help first. I particularly appreciated hearing about the kinds of things they don’t show you on those 999 documentaries so often on TV.
Dan Farnworth has been working in the emergency services since the age of 18 and it’s fair to say that he’s seen more than his share of horrific events, including the murder of a 2 year old child, a case that left him with PTSD. Dan now campaigns to raise awareness of mental health issues in the emergency services and this book is just one of the many ways he is doing this.
The only thing I can criticise is that the writing style was a little off for me. The tone of the writing felt a little accusatory at times and a couple of the chapters felt a little bit more like they were a moan in a private journal.
This wasn’t my favourite medical memoir, but it was still a really great read and a particularly educational one too.
Overall rating: “999 – My Life on the Frontline of the Ambulance Service” is an educational, sometimes heart-breaking memoir by ambulance medic Dan Farnworth. This is definitely a book that more people should be reading – it’s 4 stars from me!