Friday, June 24, 2022

Riding the Lightning - Anthony Almojera

I truly enjoy memoirs, but not those of celebrities, politicians etc. Instead I am drawn to the lives of everyday people going about their work and lives, making a difference, testing limits, exploring our world and more. 

Anthony Almojera's memoir Riding the Lightning: A Year in the Life of a New Your City Paramedic, is one I knew I wanted to listen to. Almojera is a Lieutenant Paramedic with the FDNY's EMS.

Almojera is brutally honest, detailing his own life and sharing personal stories, thoughts and emotions in this memoir. And I couldn't help but think 'I would like to meet this guy in person'. His strong opinions have nothing behind them but betterment for the patients and employees of  the Emergency Medical Services of the New York Fire Department. The first half of the book can be seen as a 'before'. We see what the Paramedics do on a daily basis. The lives saved and the lives lost. And at what cost to those who have chosen this job. 

Part Two is the 'after' if you will. After Covid-19 arrived. And the job got even tougher. The realities of trying to answer so many calls and only getting there to find yet another body is heartbreaking. I am truly in awe of those who kept coming to work, trying to save who they can and do their best, even when it seems futile. The job was tough enough pre Covid, and what they're facing now in these new parameters is simply mind boggling. I could see why Almojera is crusading for for better equipment, sufficient supplies, higher pay and equality for EMS personnel. 

Almojera is Brooklyn born and bred. His love for his city is evident in his descriptions, actions, service and more. 

I chose to listen to Riding the Lighting as the author himself was narrating. I find I become more immersed in a book when I listen. And this was most definitely the case with Riding the Lightning  Having the author read his own work is a treat. Almojera has an authentic Brooklyn accent that I enjoyed listening to. He also has a gravelly tone to his voice that seems to just emphasize the subject matter and underline what's being said. He reading speed was good. I was easily drawn into the book and was caught up 'til the last chapters. You really can't rate someone's life story, but if I had to rate this book, I'd give it a five. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Riding the Lightning.

"Anthony Almojera FDNY EMS lieutenant and vice president of AFSCME DC37 Local 3621, the New York City Fire Department’s EMS officers’ union. He has been profiled on the front page of the Washington Post and featured by CNN, Al Jazeera, USA Today, NPR, the BBC, and numerous other media outlets. Born in Brooklyn, he is a practicing Buddhist and works a third job as an on-site paramedic at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. He lives in Brooklyn." You can follow Anthony on Twitter.

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