Siren Call by Graeme Pole

Siren Call by Graeme Pole
Publisher: Mountain Vision Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full length (402 pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by Dryas

William Marshall, emergency medical technician with Mountain EMS, dedicates his life to providing patient care in Banff National Park. A seasoned medic, ‘Marsh’ responds to highway wrecks, medical calls, and backcountry disasters with compassion for the injured and a heart for the homeless. Struggling with his past and with a desperately understaffed service, Marsh coaches new-hire Miranda Walker through the learning curve of the job. While answering to an overbearing medical director, and with the local fire department vying to take over Mountain EMS, Marsh and Miranda confront public and private emergencies with professionalism, courage, and humour.
Against the odds, they turn their service and each other’s lives around.

We get to meet William Marshall, “Marsh”, an overworked but incredible medic who works for Canada’s Medical Emergency Service (EMS). One day he is called into his managers office, Pat Lemay, and where Marsh is expecting another lecture about something he did. Pat and Marsh have a volatile relationship as stated, “These sessions were always a menacing blend of sparring for the heck of it , discussion of what Lemay saw discipline issues, and bargaining sessions initiated by Marsh for everything from better uniforms to upgraded equipment to improve safety to better scheduling.”

This time, Lemay had a surprise for Marsh, he was getting a new partner. Miranda Walker, “Miri”. His first impression told him that she would be a good fit.
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She is a strong woman, confident in her skills, willing to learn. Each call stretches her skills and she begin to understand that although she has experience, she learns from Marsh about patient care. As their relationship develops, she becomes worried that Marsh has buried himself in work, not actually living. She does her best to get him to start to live again with small hints here and there along with setting him up with a friend of hers.

Marsh has worked as an EMT for 12 years and as seen everything, twice over. He is extremely knowledgeable, observant, and can handle any situation handed to him with a calm demeanor even in the worst situations. For example, there had been a large crash on a busy highway with nine victims. Unfortunately, all of the patients were dead on arrival. He was there for Miri as she tried to come to terms with the horror. He tends to use humor and his addiction to coffee as a way to help himself and his partner. It’s rather funny about his coffee addiction as it runs through the whole novel. He has a great rapport with all the first responders since he has been working so long and knows how to work with them.

With each call, the reader gets to see how hard it can be for EMT’s and how underfunded they can be with simple comforts that they do not have. Most of their stuff in the bunkhouse came from the trash. Each call shows us a different part of Miri and Marsh, which also shows us how much we should appreciate them. They also must face horrible issues in their personal lives. For example, Miri has a sister that is dying from leukemia and when she got a call from her mother that her sister didn’t have much longer to live, she was lucky enough that a flight crew that was going to take a patient to Calgary died so they agreed to take her there.

For Marsh it was a homeless man that he had a rapport with as he often responded to calls for various ailments when Reggie gets placed in jail. He even gave Reggie a card that had some money for coffee or food. He seemed to understand Reggie better than most, always willing to listen to him and not get mad when those fake calls come in. The author shows us what is going on in Reggie’s mind and we can tell that he needed psychiatric help more than anything else.

The only thing that I would have liked to see is maybe getting rid of some of the scenes that feature Bryce, a mountaineer that is well known for taking beautiful pictures. There were times when I thought scenes with him slowed things down and some unnecessary details could be removed.

This is a story that everyone should read to understand just how hard EMT’s work and how ill treated they can be. They are under constant pressure from the people upstairs along with dealing with difficult patient’s and horrible situations. Remember that if you ever need to be in a situation where an EMT is needed, please make sure that you tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing.

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