Fire, Blood and Forty Below
Fire, Blood and Forty Below is a nonfiction work based on a journal kept by a firefighter/medic being initiated into the world of emergency response.
At first, the journal consists of impressions of what it is like to become a trained emergency responder, but the writing changes dramatically when the author becomes the victim of multiple gunshot wounds in the line of duty. As the responder's training, skills and competence increase, so too does the psychological stress, and its cumulative effects. The text documents this evolution, punctuated by often exciting, sometimes horrific, and occasionally bizarre emergency responses.
The journal gives details of the training required to become a proficient firefighter/medic; the unique challenges to emergency response posed by the climatic extremes of Alaska; a variety of unusual events, like being assigned to protect the President of the United States, or taking on a bull moose with an ambulance; and rescues of lives and property, even performing mouth-to-muzzle resuscitation to revive a dog.
But the details are also offered for the more traumatic experiences, like the shooting; the inability to save people despite heroic efforts; the frustration of political impediments to saving lives and property, even being repeatedly ordered to let families homes burn to the ground as they plead with the firefighters to save their property.
Though the events described happened at a specific place and time, the lessons from those events are universal, and timeless.