For 15 years, Steven Schrader worked as a firefighter and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in Atlanta, Georgia. There, he faced the day-to-day stress created by having to deal with nonstop human catastrophe, one moment administering to terribly hurt accident victims, the next talking down a suicidal person from a rooftop. Added to these difficulties were his own personal struggles, not the least being the bias he experienced because of his severe hearing loss. Silent Alarm presents his no-frills, stunning account of survival in a profession with a notoriously high burn-out rate, and the good that he did as a topnotch EMT.
Schrader makes palpable the constant tension of being the first summoned to life-or-death situations, and he also outlines the grim reality of being an EMT in dangerous parts of the community. “Always wear a bulletproof vest; keep a weapon (out of sight of the supervisors, of course); never, never stand in front of a door when knocking,” are just a few of his rules for the street.
Despite these cautions, time and again he and his partners plunged into danger to save children, elderly citizens, indigents, criminals, and any other persons they found at risk. His hearing loss occasionally hindered him, and sometimes saved him, but, mostly, as it should, it became part of the background to the astonishing compassion in the stories he tells.
Steven L. Schrader, now retired, continues to write in Lawrenceville, GA.