What might be an alternative career for a depressed, out-of-shape and anxiety-prone writer in her fifties who is claustrophobic and terrified of illness and death? If "emergency medical technician" doesn't spring immediately to your mind, you're not alone. It didn't spring to Jane Stern's mind, either, until the day that she gave a candy bar to a dizzy and pale fellow passenger on an airplane that had been grounded for hours. Thus began Stern's bumpy journey towards EMT certification and a new vocation, which she describes with considerable humour in Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT. One of my favourite scenes in the book occurs when, on the spur of the moment, Stern enters the town firehouse in Georgia, Connecticut, to talk to someone about the job:
"The man in charge of accepting EMT applications was in his seventies, hard-nosed and gruff. His name was Charlie. He looked at me and said, 'Lady, I don't think this is for you,' then went into a long soliloquy about vomit."
Sounds appealing, doesn't it?