This was the first one.
The author describes his own experiences during a week's internship with an ambulance crew. He already is a surgeon and works long, busy hours at a hospital in a city in southern Germany. The city is never named, and road names were changed, but a lot in the book makes me think it could be Stuttgart, the big city next to my home town.
He needs to get a certain number of critical missions with the ambulance under his belt in order to qualify as an emergency practitioner. Critical in that context means that the situation they are called to is a real medical emergency, life-threatening for the patient, and that what the doctor decides to do on-site saves the patient's life.
One would expect the young doctor to find his week of emergency missions exhausting, but he describes it as feeling almost like a holiday - away from the stressful long hours on the hospital's ward, and a lot of just waiting in the ready room for their beepers to go off. During those waiting times, there is some friendly (and some less friendly) banter with the other doctors, nurses and emergency crew; they share meals, have naps or read.
The moment their beepers go off, all is action. It is really interesting to read about how they manage within minutes to be where they are needed, and what happens once they arrive. The situations they are called to during that week greatly differ one from the other, and they never really know what to expect beforehand, in spite of the basic information given from the control room.
Sometimes they need to break their way through the door of an apartment, only to find that the person they were supposed to help has died days or weeks ago. At other times, upset relatives already expect them, and some patients seem to think the ambulance is a taxi and the crew's job is to help them moving their bags for a long-planned stay in hospital.
On the way to their missions, the driver gets regularly mad at other drivers - the city roads are very busy, and not everyone seems to understand that when an ambulance car comes racing along, with sirens on full blast and flashing blue lights, you better make way - and fast.
The reader learns next to nothing about the young doctor's private life, but a lot about the professional lives of those working in and around a hospital. We all may, at some point in our lives, depend on them; be it on their skills as drivers so that we can be taken to hospital within minutes after an accident, or as paramedics, assistants, nurses,
doctors - they all have their own defined set of tasks and competences, all important, and we should be grateful if we are lucky enough to live in a country with a functioning healthcare system and not take it (and the people who work in it) for granted.
As mentioned above, the writing style is not that of a "proper" author. But that does not make this (relatively short) book any less worthy of my reading time. I now understand better what the work of an ambulance crew involves, and next time I hear an ambulance's siren (and we hear them a lot in my home town), I can imagine what's going on right now and what could be happening next.