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Books

Killing Season: A Paramedic's Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic

(Coming April 2021)

 

A devastating, empathetic look at the opioid epidemic in the United States, through the eyes of a paramedic on the front lines.

 

When Peter Canning started work as a paramedic on the streets of Hartford, Connecticut, twenty-five years ago, he believed drug users were victims only of their own character flaws. Although he took care of them, he did not care for them. But as the overdoses escalated, Canning began asking his patients how they had gotten started on their perilous journeys. And while no two tales were the same, their heartrending similarities changed Canning's view and moved him to educate himself about the science of addiction. Armed with that understanding, he began his fight against the stigmatization of users.

 

In Killing Season, we ride along with Canning through the streets of Hartford as he tells stories of opioid overdose from a street-level vantage point. A first responder to hundreds of overdoses throughout the rise of America's epidemic, Canning has seen the impact of prescription painkillers, heroin, and the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl firsthand. Bringing us into the room (or the car, or the portable toilet) with the victims of this epidemic, Canning explains how he came to favor harm reduction, which advocates for needle exchange, community naloxone, and safe-injection sites.

 

Through the rapid-fire nature of one paramedic's view of addiction and overdose, readers will come to understand more than just the science and misguided policies behind the opioid epidemic. They'll also share in Canning's developing empathy. Stripping away the stigma of addiction through stories that are hard-hitting, poignant, sad, confessional, funny, and overall, human, Killing Season will change minds about the epidemic, help obliterate stigma, and save lives.

 

Killing Season: A Paramedic's Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic

Diamond in the Rough

Winter 2016

 

 A grief stricken mother seeks a publisher for her dead son's manuscript -- the shocking tale of his wayward journey through the world of EMS. Tim Anderson is a troubled youth who becomes an EMT at Capitol Ambulance in the hopes it will help land him a girlfriend. He struggles to fit in with his new partners and not appear soft toward his sick and elderly patients. His downfall begins when he steals marijuana from a despondent college student in an attempt to curry favor with his new girlfriend. Soon, he is lifting wallets from drunken businessmen and picking money rolls out of the pockets of gunshot drug dealers to buy her gifts and fund lavish dates. Dealing daily with death and human decline, and tormented by guilt, he struggles to allow his emerging conscience to guide him on a path toward redemption that while not saving him from his fateful end, at least bestows him with grace.

 

An action-packed dark comedy, Diamond in the Rough is a lights and sirens tour through the world of emergency medical services that will shock and enlighten as it reveals the yearning heart of a most unlikely hero.

 

Diamond in the Rough

Mortal Men: Paramedics on the Streets of Hartford

February 2012

 

Paramedic Troy Johnson battles trauma and sickness on the streets of Hartford, Connecticut. When a fellow medic is shot to death responding to a 911 call, a grief-stricken Troy vows to avenge the death, while struggling to come to grips with his own mortality.

 

Mortal Men examines the ancient bonding between friends and partners who count on each other to make it safely home. Written by veteran paramedic Peter Canning, author of the acclaimed Paramedic: On the Front Lines of Medicine and Rescue 471: A Paramedic's Stories, Mortal Men is a novel that provides a rare view into the real-life world of street medicine and into the lives of the men and women who fight its battles.

 

Mortal Men: Paramedics on the Streets of Hartford

Paramedic: On the Front Lines of Medicine

Ballantine Books: 1997

In this unforgettable, dramatic account of one man's experience as an EMT, Peter Canning relives the nerve-racking seconds that can mean the difference between a patient's death and survival, as Canning struggles to make the right call, dispense the right medication, or keep a patient's heart beating long enough to reach the hospital. As Canning tells his graphic, gripping war stories--of the lives he saved and lost; of the fear, the nightmares, and the constant adrenaline-pumping thrill of action--we come away with an unforgettable portrait of what it means to be a hero.
--book jacket

Canning's "book is both a personal story and a vivid portrait of his profession, one that despite its importance is often taken for granted. . . . PARAMEDIC deepened my appreciation for the work paramedics do."
--The Washington Post

"FAST-PACED . . . VIVID . . . EYE-OPENING."
--The Hartford Courant

 

Paramedic: On the Front Lines of Medicine

Rescue 471: A Paramedic's Stories

Ballantine Books: 2000

TRUE LIFE-AND-DEATH DRAMA

In taut, thrilling prose, Peter Canning has written a book that captures the rarely seen real world of emergency medicine. A seasoned paramedic who fights under enormous pressure to save lives, Canning trains new paramedics for the rigors of a nonstop, action-packed battle. From a four-month-old baby who has stopped breathing to a sixty-seven-year-old woman with a strange abdominal mass that threatens to explode--these are gripping true stories from the "ER on the streets." An exciting, often moving account, Canning tells a powerful story of camaraderie, selflessness, and courage as paramedics try to stand tall and human through both defeat and victory.
-- book jacket

"Canning captures with words what it is to be an EMT or a paramedic in one of America's cities....An excellent and enjoyable read."
-- Journal of Emergency Medical Services

 

Rescue 471: A Paramedic's Stories