A true account of going through UCLA’s famed Daniel Freeman Paramedic Program—and practicing emergency medicine on the streets of Los Angeles.
Nine months of tying tourniquets and pushing new medications, of IVs, chest compressions, and defibrillator shocks—that was Kevin Grange’s initiation into emergency medicine when, at age thirty-six, he enrolled in the “Harvard of paramedic schools”: UCLA’s Daniel Freeman Paramedic Program, long considered one of the best and most intense paramedic training programs in the world.
Few jobs can match the stress, trauma, and drama that a paramedic calls a typical day at the office, and few educational settings can match the pressure and competitiveness of paramedic school. Blending months of classroom instruction with ER rotations and a grueling field internship with the Los Angeles Fire Department, UCLA’s paramedic program is like a mix of boot camp and med school. It would turn out to be the hardest thing Grange had ever done—but also the most transformational and inspiring.
An in-depth look at the trials and tragedies that paramedic students experience daily, Lights and Sirens is ultimately about the best part of humanity—people working together to help save a human life.
Writer and paramedic Grange (Beneath Blossom Rain) unleashes a memoir of his grueling training at UCLA's elite Daniel Freeman Paramedic Program, which entails four months of classroom training, two months of hospital shifts honing clinical skills, and another three months of "field internship" with paramedics assigned to the Los Angeles Fire Department's station in Wilmington. The former EMT begins his training full of confidence and ambition, but he quickly finds the fraught journey to be laced with fear of failure and daunting challenges as well as unimaginable, justified pride. Grange adopts "the best way out is through" as his motto, but his hardest lesson becomes understanding the essence of providing care: getting it done. "There was an obstacle on every 911 call, and getting it done' meant rising to the challenge; not shying away from the moment, but plunging into the fire," he writes. It also meant that "you let go of excuses and, instead, did everything in your power to save someone's life." Grange's narrative is both exciting and terrifying, and it pays heartfelt tribute to pre-hospital emergency care that's akin to "waking people up from the dead," as well as to the courage and kindness of his fellow paramedics.