A panorama of experiences: the mundane, the ridiculous, the heartbreaking and the tragic.
This beautifully written book, punctuated with wry humour, is a sobering portrayal of the ailing, the distressed and the lonely... Yet it's also an uplifting read which will make you thankful that should your hour of need arrive, so will someone like Jones
According to Jake Jones, who has spent ten years as a paramedic, there is in his job "a stubborn embargo on egotism and conceit..." Evidently, two crucial qualities a paramedic needs are patience and compassion... [His] humour brings some light relief, because we are in no doubt about the difficulty of his work... He admits that the "short visit to someone else's heartbreak" takes its toll, and alludes to the impact on mental health that stifling frequent bursts of anguish may have. Jones's writing is at its most humane when he describes the panic and grief induced by losing his father to Alzheimer's. But there is no self-indulgence here; rather, Jones conveys in these passages the humbling effect of experiencing trauma from the inside.
[Jones is] not just a good paramedic, however. There's a descriptive flair to his writing, too, as he breathes uncomfortable life into foul, neglected flats and wet Sunday-night cityscapes, and embarks on a frightening subterranean rescue mission into an industrial labyrinth... Can You Hear Me? does nothing to dent the heroic image of the paramedic, but Jones' troubling ambivalence brings a complexity to it, forcing him to ask whether the pragmatic, detached attitude needed to do such work is a poisoned chalice, doing them harm as they do others good.
Jake Jones has written a searing, honest, often funny account of life in the UK ambulance service. An intense, and sometimes strangely beautiful, read.