The best books for and about emergency medicine

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a paramedic. I like being a medic. Not so much because of the science and medicine related to the job, but I like connecting with people. People from every walk of life. I like the chaos and unpredictability of the streets. The books on my list portray what it’s like to be out there. Not just war stories. But stories of humility and grace.  


I wrote...

Emergency Monster Squad

By Dave Horowitz,

Book cover of Emergency Monster Squad

What is my book about?

What is it like to ride on an ambulance? What’s the difference between a paramedic and an EMT? What exactly is “the Q-word?” and why shouldn’t I say it to an ambulance crew?

These questions and more are answered in Emergency Monster Squad, a kooky, fast-paced, children’s book by author/illustrator/paramedic, Dave Horowitz. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back

Dave Horowitz Why did I love this book?

A Thousand Naked Strangers is the definitive book about life on an ambulance. I’ve never read another book about this or any other topic for that matter, which made me think, “Yes! Exactly, you get me!” When anyone asks me—and they never do—what is it really like working on an ambulance? this is the book I point to.

Not only is A Thousand Naked Strangers full of great stories from the author’s time on the bus, but Kevin Hazzard, is also a journalist and it shows. This book is fast-paced, funny, and authentic.

By Kevin Hazzard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Thousand Naked Strangers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe.

In the aftermath of 9/11 Kevin Hazzard felt that something was missing from his life—his days were too safe, too routine. A failed salesman turned local reporter, he wanted to test himself, see how he might respond to pressure and danger. He signed up for emergency medical training and became, at age twenty-six, a newly minted EMT running calls in the worst sections of Atlanta. His life entered a…


Book cover of People Care: Perspectives & Practices for Professional Caregivers

Dave Horowitz Why did I love this book?

People Care is a book that should be given to every EMT and medic student. Caregivers in the field would also do well to read it. There are two sides to emergency medicine: There is the bit about interpreting ECGs, poking people with needles and splinting mangled bones—and there is the human side; treating people like people, not just “patients”. People Care is about the latter.  

Without getting overly sappy, People Care is full of reminders and tips that can reel a salty provider back from the edge. I read this book with about eight years in EMS under my belt and it gave me a lot to think about and changed the way I work.

By Thom Dick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked People Care as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

EMS texts have grown in size from 200 pages to more than 2,000. But they still don’t mention fear, kindness, gentleness, compassion, love, or tolerance for some of the mindless stupidity and pure meanness we all see daily. Reinforced by advice from dozens of master-level caregivers, this newest edition of People Care explains how to harness and employ the most powerful therapeutic instruments in medicine – our intuition, our empathy, our words and our behaviors – in service to people we’ve never met. And, how to love doing it for 20 years.


Book cover of Population: 485

Dave Horowitz Why did I love this book?

Population 485 was the first book about EMS I ever read. I was just starting out as a volunteer in a rural area, so this book really resonated with me. The author, in moving back to his rural hometown in Wisconsin, joins the local fire department and shares with his readers the funny, crazy, and tragic stories that haunt his small town.

Perry’s writing is full of humility and wit. Population 485 is a portrait of “small-town America” but also serves as a peek behind the curtain at the education of a first responder.

By Michael Perry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Population as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Part portrait of a place, part rescue manual, part rumination of life and death, Population: 485 is a beautiful meditation on the things that matter.”  — Seattle Times

Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin (population: 485) where the local vigilante is a farmer’s wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Michael Perry loves this place. He grew…


Book cover of Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon

Dave Horowitz Why did I love this book?

I found Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon when I was on a read-all-the-books-about-emergency-medicine kick. I had recently gotten my paramedic certification and was trying to learn all I could about the science of medicine. My brain does not do well with textbooks, so I gravitated towards memoirs.

Unfortunately, being a great doctor and being a great—or even good—writer, seldom go hand in hand. Most of the doctor memoirs I came across were as thrilling as an Anatomy and Physiology textbook.

Dr. Cole’s book was different. He’s a skilled writer and his experiences are exciting and varied.

By James Cole,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Trauma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Trauma" is Dr. Cole's harrowing account of a career fighting to save lives. But unlike the authors of other medical memoirs, Cole trained to be a surgeon in the military and served as a physician member of a Marine Corps reconnaissance unit, United States Special Operations Command, and on a Navy Reserve SEAL team. From treating war casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq to his experiences as a civilian trauma surgeon treating alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, and the mentally deranged, "Trauma" is an intense look at one man's commitment to his country and to those most desperately in need of aid.


Book cover of JFK's Secret Doctor: The Remarkable Life of Medical Pioneer and Legendary Rock Climber Hans Kraus

Dave Horowitz Why did I love this book?

Although not exactly a book on emergency medicine, I recommend this book for several reasons. First, as a rock climber, Hans Kraus is one of my personal heroes. He was an early pioneer of free climbing in New York’s Shawangunks (the mountains of my youth). But secondly—and more relevant here—he was considered the grandfather of sports medicine. His philosophy of less is more rehab, has stuck with me in theory and in practice.

Oh, and he was also JFK’s secret “back doctor”. A fascinating read about a fascinating man.

By Susan E B Schwartz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked JFK's Secret Doctor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set against the grand panorama of twentieth-century world events, it captures the remarkable life and spirit of climbing and medical visionary Hans Kraus (1905-1966). Kraus was taught English by James Joyce, escaped Nazi dominated Europe, and was JFK's secret back specialist. A legendary rock climber known for hair-raising ascents on two continents, Kraus lived a life filled with tragedy and triumph, intense passion, verve, and a whole lot of guts, glory, and wit.

One of the great unsung medical pioneers of the twentieth century, Kraus made headline news throughout the second half of the 1950s, was a guest of honor…


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Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

Book cover of Subjugation: Zanchier

SG Boudreaux

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life.

After escaping from a government holding facility where she, along with other scientists, was being forced to build a deadly weapon. She headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains.

The one place where no one would think to search for her. There, she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…

Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

What is this book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life. After escaping from a government holding facility, where she along with other scientists were being forced to build a deadly weapon, she headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains. The one place where no one would think to search for her. There she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds, and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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