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4.2 out of 5 stars825
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VINE VOICEon 14 December 2007
This is what being in an ambulance is like. Everything from being called cause someone feels funny, because they've taken grass, to the heartbreaking infant deaths, this has it all. Some of it is scary stuff and his advice on Blogging and Keeping your Job is priceless, I was very moved and cried at least once (the entry Victims is heartbreaking). It covers a year in the life of Tom, the year is 2003, Tom wavers between being caught up with the family dramas and a sense of unreality about it all. There are times when I really felt sorry for him and times that I wanted to slap him and remind him that he could be that person some day. I don't blame him for his attitude, he has to keep sane somehow.

The minute I could I subscribed to the RSS feed for his blog.

I would recommend this book to anyone thinking about becoming a health worker. Even if it means just so you can understand how it is for those people on the other side of the line.

Why only 4*? The blog is 5*.
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on 13 November 2008
Although I enjoyed around half of the entries and found them entertaining and often very touching, this book should come with a warning.... for all NHS staff who work outside of the ambulance service! While the author acknowledges that his comments are not meant to tar all NHS employees with the same brush, and definitely the shortages of staff put pressure on all, there are several occasions where doctors, nurses and midwives are made out to be rude and uncaring and often this book descends into ranting about these professional groups. While dipping in and out of a blog the odd rant is ok, I found that in a book form these frequent angry entries got in the way of the flow of an otherwise enjoyble book.
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on 17 October 2011
An interesting insight into the life of a paramedic. I enjoyed this book - it was easy to read, written casually and had some humour alongside all of the tragedies. Though it did feel rather repetitive at times, that's just what life in the LAS is like. Though Reynolds is quite opinionated, I thankfully didn't find this annoying and he is quite likeable. I am unsure how I feel about the format of the book as it was left much like it was written in his blog - there wasn't anything wrong with this but it felt different to reading online, especially with the mentions of his followers and the comments he received. I liked finding out more about the paramedic service and Reynold's opinions on the NHS were also very open and frank. I look forward to reading the next book.
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on 24 April 2011
Wish I'd read that it was a collection of blogs before buying it, because obviously there were plenty of entries made when the author was weary after a hard shift, or disenchanted with his job because of the happenings on the shift, and the arrogance & lack of faith in humanity meant that it just wasn't my cup of tea.

I found it somewhat disjointed (because of usually being written at the end of a shift) and the author came over as being full of self-importance just by the writing style, although clearly he isn't because of his job and how he performs it. He also is very much London-based, with little concept of how life exists beyond the capital.

Afraid I won't be buying any follow-ups, or recommending it to friends.
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on 1 July 2015
I've been wanting to read this book for years. It was the basis for one of my favourite TV shows of all time (Channel 4's Sirens), and also one of my guilty pleasures (the bawdy US version) and I'd been meaning to pick the book up ever since I got addicted to the adaptations. I never quite got around to it, though. What can I say? I'm stingy.

You can imagine, then, that when I was trawling Amazon for free e-books to make up the figures on my Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge and saw that this particular book was among them, I was somewhat excited.

In hindsight, I probably went into it with my expectations raised too high. Simply put, this book just doesn't match up to what I was hoping for.

Firstly, it's based on a blog, which is fine. I knew that. However, I hadn't expected that it would literally just be copied and pasted from the blog, spelling and grammatical errors included. If I'm reading a blog, then I can deal with people using 'it's' where they mean 'its'. If I'm reading a book, however, then I expect some discerning editor to make the reading experience a little more fluid. It's just damn jarring to try and work around obvious mistakes.

Secondly, the constant repetition of the phrase 'I'm not racist, but ...' and 'I'm not racist - I hate everyone equally!' made me particularly glad that the writers of the TV adaptations had clearly not based their protagonists on the author of this book. He sounds like the kind of guy you'd see at a party and would lead you to beg your friend to please, dear god, let you sit at the other end of the table.

It really isn't all bad. There are some genuinely hilarious bits, as well as some actual human emotion, and I don't regret reading it. I'm just very glad that it was free.
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on 2 June 2013
I'm a huge fan of blogging. I'm the first to admit just what a nosy person I am and so I think the thing that appeals to me is getting a sneak peak into the life of somebody else. Funnily though, I've never read a blog-to-book publication before. I've wanted to though. And I chose Blood, Sweat and Tea as my first foray into the genre because the idea of getting a glimpse at the world of a paramedic seemed too cool to pass up.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I've been in the back of an ambulance far too many times. I guess I'm what Tom Reynolds might term a 'frequent flyer'. I have a medical condition that causes me to black out, inevitably scaring passers-by or my work colleagues into calling an ambulance (usually when it isn't necessary). It got to the point where last year some of the Liverpool Paramedics were beginning to recognise me and even remembered where I worked etc.

I've met some really great Paramedics, the kind for who nothing is too much trouble. But I've also met the kind who when turning up to an unconscious 26 year old in a public place are expecting an alcoholic or drug addict and therefore treat you as such until they know your medical history.

Reading Tom Reynolds' book I have a little more understanding of the job these people do and why sometimes they can seem stressed out, pissed off and arrogant (not that that's how Reynolds comes across or how many of the EMT's I've met are. It's just a reflection of select individuals).

This book made me smile, giggle to myself and also tear up, bite my lip and want to weep. There were things I recognised and things I hope I never have to experience.

Tom Reynolds has done a great job of personalising the face of the Ambulance service and it will definitely make me feel differently about the next Paramedic who treats me.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who has ever been treated by the Ambulance Service. And I may just have to check out the original blog...
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on 25 March 2013
This is a word of mouth hit, an edited version of what was originally an East London ambulance driver's blog, that made it to become a Radio 4 drama series. It is addictive reading.

It is strongly written - by someone who, as an ex A&E nurse has seen it from both sides, and who got promoted, while a blogger, from ambulance team to first response unit, so can talk competently medically. It describes `my daily grind of saving lives [delete] picking up drunks'.

At the end of it, you too can be exasperated by the maternity hospital that locks the door at night and doesn't come down to unlock them when someone is being `blued' in. You can wonder at the lack of 24 hour psychiatric provision and effective GP cover that would save call outs and admissions. This is the real purpose of blogs - you represent your service - but you challenge others too - the A&E, the maternity units, the GPs, the social services that claim they will come round but don't. You can challenge the idiots that don't get out of the way of the ambulance - and thank the kind people who do and who understand why the ambulance may have to block the street. You make the job real - so hopefully no idiots that don't like difficult city driving and people dying on them vomiting blood will join up and waste the training money.

You can wonder at the number of hoax calls that the call centre do manage to get rid of. You can be shocked at the health and emergency impacts of alcoholism, obesity, and diabetes. You can wonder at how late some people leave it to ring the ambulance for their dying baby. You can wonder too at the number of people who call the ambulance out for high priority chest pain that really only have a chest infection, a foot that's been painful for a week, a skin condition. You can see the point of emergency ambulances for asthma attacks and women fainting.

Just occasionally ,Tom Reynolds says he manages to save a life. But you can rate your chances very low of being revived by CPR if you have a heart attack - even though the ambulance teams have good equipment and enough practice - although you may come round long enough to die in hospital with your relatives around you.
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on 17 May 2007
this book is great. I work in the same profession and can identify with everything in this.... from the mundane to the absurd to the sad. It does happen like this and it's not surprising to find every Ambulance service suffers the same issues.

Forget a government campaign, the persistant callers, the inappropriate callers and every other caller wanting an ambulance when it isn't necessary should be given a copy to maybe stir their conscience.

There could have been so much more written i'm sure. Until then ???? this will definately do
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on 25 August 2014
Glad he is not my colleague. While providing a valuable insight to the NHS and a career in the ambulance service, this book is unpleasant to read. Not generally because of the subject matter , which certainly illustrates what an unpleasant lot the British public can be; but more because the writer himself is just nasty - as in 'you can poke round people's houses and feel superior' and comments about the cat. I am struggling to see humour in this rant. Glad the kindle version was free, so I can ditch it without guilt at not finishing it.
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on 4 January 2011
This book is an anthology of blogs taken from the author's website. Tom Reynolds is the pseudonym of a paramedic working for the London Ambulance Service. The blog entries are accounts of some of his more memorable jobs and shifts which he has experienced thus far in his career.

Tom writes his blogs not as a spokesman for the LAS, but as an individual thrust into some very demanding and often quite emotionally challenging situations. He voices his own opinions, thought processes, likes/dislikes and is therefore likely to offend those holding opposite ideals. It is therefore necessary to begin this book with the understanding that it is biased, flawed but totally human. That for me, made this book completely readable; I may not agree with some of his opinions and beliefs, but it was so refreshing to read a book written by an individual who refuses to toe the line of political correctness.

His jobs range from maternities, to drunks, stabbings to the terrorist attacks in London and give an overview of the nature of the work that he is tasked with on a daily basis whilst working within Newham, London. The blogs are relatively short and can therefore be swiftly read.

If you're looking for a book which gives a fascinating insight into the life of an operational paramedic, then this is ideal. Just remember that Tom Reynolds is an author who likes to speak his mind and may therefore offend!
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