There is a wide selection of fantastic books and audiobooks available on Amazon, which have been written by current and former emergency services personnel who have decided to share their own experiences of life on the front line with the general public.
Hardly a day goes by now without there being some sort of emergency services documentary on TV where you get to see the ‘vanilla’ side of life in the emergency services. But with so many fantastic books out there, why not get an idea as to what life in the emergency services is really like?
Here are our top six recommendations which are based upon the number of copies sold along with the number of 5-star reviews:
1. Dial 999. Authors description: ‘Card-playing corpses, unfaithful husbands and ‘flying’ ladies – life as an ambulance driver in the 1970s was certainly varied …
At the age of twenty-three, Les Pringle decided to escape from office life, broaden his horizons and become an ‘ambulance driver’. Little did he realize how broad those horizons would turn out to be.
Filled with warmth and humour, Dial 999! takes us back to a time when lonely old ladies could call 999 and have a cup of tea waiting when the drivers turned up for a chat; when learning to drive the ambulance meant going out for one test drive and managing not to hit a pedestrian; and every day brought a glimpse into other people’s lives.
Gripping, poignant and darkly funny, Dial 999!is an affectionate, warm-hearted look at a world gone by’.
Best review: “I wrote the paperback copy of this when I was in on my hols in the Dominican a few years ago I work for the same amb service (WMAS) & found it hilarious but also sad in places, a fantastically written book by an extremely good paramedic & author. Would definitely recommend & would also read again”
Buy it on Amazon for 12.99
2. Firearms And Fatals: An Autobiography of 30 Years Front line Policing Exposed. Authors description: ‘When regaling numerous hilariously funny, some beautifully sad and some utterly tragic accounts from events over 30 years of Policing experience, many a friend and colleague of Sergeant Harry Tangye has said, “You just have to write a book!” and so he did.
The author has worked as a front line police officer in the Devon and Cornwall Police with the Armed Response Unit and Traffic department for 23 of those 30 years with the others spent on the beat in areas such as Torbay, Exeter and Plymouth.
He was an Operational Firearms Commander, a Firearms Tactics Advisor a VIP protection officer and Pursuit Tactics advisor along with investigating many a fatal road traffic collision being regarded as an expert in his field on many aspects.
Allow yourself to be taken along with him on a journey from adventure to adventure, covering all emotions possible, covering how policing was done in the past, to how it is done today.
Harry has 10’s of thousands of followers on his award-winning Police Twitter account which has allowed him to become an influential voice within Policing and politics and is often described as “controversial”, by media outlets.
He is straight-talking, to the mark and cannot abide policy for policy sake but prefers the individual and personal aspect on everyday life. “Treat every person you meet as if they were your own mother”, he says, “…and then you won’t go too far wrong”.
‘This is a great read. An honest account from someone who has been there and says things how they are. Which in our modern age is very refreshing. For me what really struck a chord was the accounts of RTA/RTC – people criticise the police for prosecuting people for speeding, drink driving or using mobiles when driving. But if you spent a few nights in A&E and saw the human cost, the misery and lives ruined, you would think again.
‘But in the end its also a light hearted look at police life. I ended up reading it late into the night and highly recommend it’ Simon Peck.
3. Blue. John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992, having dreamed of being a police officer since his teens. Rising quickly through the ranks, he experienced all that is extraordinary about a life in blue: saving lives, finding the lost, comforting the broken and helping to take dangerous people off the streets.
But for every case with a happy ending, others ended in desperate sadness, and in 2013 John suffered a major breakdown.
Blue is his memoir of crime and calamity, adventure and achievement, of friendship and failure, of serious illness and slow recovery.
With searing honesty, it offers an immensely moving and personal insight into what it is to be a police officer in Britain today.
BEST REVIEW: ‘I didn’t think I would like this book. I worked as a police officer in Scotland for over thirty years, and I think I had a different perspective. For me policing was like sex; I fumbled around for a bit, not really knowing what I was doing, and I was never sure how long it would last – but, oh boy, it was fun! (The really FUNNY thing about being a cop).
However, I did like this book. First of all, it is well written, I was engaged from the start and found it hard to put down.
‘John Sutherland describes incidents that also happened to me but I had forgotten. Heart-rending moments that most cops will experience sometime in their service. I was blessed with a bad memory, and it wasn’t until reading this book that some things came flooding back. The sluice gates opened up. It is important then that we recognise those feelings and deal with them. His message is that we should take greater care of our colleagues and our fellow human beings. The compassion of the man is solid and tangible. People matter.
‘There is also a message in here for our lawmakers, politicians and influencers. John is correct when he writes that most politicians don’t understand the operational complexities of policing. In this day and age of service cuts and pay freezes that has never been truer.
‘Blue is an honest account that made me sad in places and smile in others. John vividly describes his tumbling descent into depression with such vulnerability that you can’t fail to empathise. I didn’t think I would like this book because it is not what I normally read, but I appreciated every word. It made me think, and that is never a bad thing for me to do’ – Malky McEwan.
4. On The Line: Life – And Death – In The Metropolitan Police. A no-holds-barred account of life on the front line of policing, On the Line follows PC Alice Hearn throughout ten years in the Met, from rookie to constable. As she deals with violent criminals, heart-breaking domestic situations, petty crime, life, death, and everything in between, she builds up a portrait of a living, complex city, and what it means to look after it.
BEST REVIEW: ‘Having worked on a police response team, in the same London borough, at the same time as Alice, I would like to thank her for her courage in writing a refreshingly honest portrayal of the realities of modern day policing. All too often police officers are portrayed as gung ho, macho types, screaming around on blues and twos, kicking in doors and wrestling drug dealers to the ground. While some of the job is like this, all too often it is exactly as Alice accurately describes.
‘It’s an emotional rollercoaster of dead bodies, wasted and hopeless lives without purpose and the endless, futile revolving door of repeat callers and victims who, despite your very best efforts, are ultimately powerless to help escape their miserable situations.
‘But Alice goes beyond the job and bravely takes us into her own private battles. Battles that I (and I suspect many other police officers), can relate to. The endless faces of those you couldn’t help, accusing you in repetitive dreams.
‘The sleepless nights spent replaying the threats and vile insults you’ve been subjected to the day before, knowing that you’ll get the same again in a few hours time, albeit even more sleep deprived than the previous day. The struggle to maintain relationships and the inability to ever really switch off.
‘Thank you Alice, for speaking for all of us…..’ –
5. ‘Beyond The Call Of Duty: Untold Stories of Britain’s Bravest Police Officers‘. A lone policewoman disarms a knife-wielding schizophrenic; two officers drag a woman from a railway line seconds before an express train roars past; an undercover cop clings onto the bonnet of a drug-dealer’s car as it speeds through a busy town centre.
These are just some of the ways Britain’s police officers are daily called upon to demonstrate bravery in the line of duty when even the most routine call can turn into a life-or-death situation and split-second judgements can make all the difference. Sometimes officers make the ultimate sacrifice in fulfilling their duty.
When PC Bill Parker was swept to his death by floodwaters in Cumbria in 2009, he had been working to save stranded motorists from the same fate.This thrilling collection of first-person accounts of true courage celebrates the sustained bravery and presence of mind routinely displayed by so many officers in England, Wales and Scotland.
‘The stories also reveal an insider’s view of the culture, training and techniques police officers use in carrying out their duties’.
BEST REVIEW: ‘This is a very absorbing book set out in short riveting stories about police officers going beyond the call of duty. I was touched by all the stories but none more so than the Special Constable.
‘As an ex Special myself it was pleasing to see a mention of this band of volunteers. Back in my day we were viewed with suspicion but I guess now times have changed and they appear to be more accepted by their regular colleagues. I felt a touch of pride reading the Special’s story.
‘That’s not to detract from all the other brave girls and boys in blue whose remarkable stories are told in this book. An excellent read and a tribute to all officers in our thin blue line’. – Simon
6. ‘Stop! Armed Police!: Inside the Met’s Firearms Unit’. Join veteran crime-fighter Stephen Smith on a journey through the dark and dangerous world of the Metropolitan Police specialist firearms command from its inception in 1966, when the cold-blooded murder of three police officers sparked a revolution in the training of armed officers, to the present day.
This unique police unit battled against the IRA in the 1970s, experienced its first operational shootings in the 1980s and underwent massive expansion in the 1990s.
In the new millenium it fought against Dome raiders, kidnappers, and al-Qaeda terrorists, then worked to provide London with a secure environment in which to host the 2012 Olympic Games.
From a gunman ordering cannabis smuggled in fried chicken during a siege to a deranged killer holding toddlers hostage, London’s armed police have seen it all. With his wealth of first-hand experience, Stephen Smith has woven together historic and up-to-date accounts of dangerous and often famously controversial firearms operations across England’s capital.
Using hundreds of photographs, illustrations and drawings from several archived sources, this fascinating volume spans five decades of the Metropolitan Police’s fight against crime, and many of its photographs and illustrations have never been published before.
Packed with detail and intrigue, Stop! Armed Police! is a must-have for those with interest in police firearms matters and is a captivating behind-the-scenes look at the dangerous business of policing London’s streets.
BEST REVIEW: ‘I bought this book because I had a personal interest in one of the stories the shooting in South Croydon when my friends Greg Green and Mike Skinner were killed. Little was reported about this horrific incident because it was knocked off the front pages of the tabloids by the IRA Harrods bombing. It was a difficult read for me but it should have received more attention than it did at the time, so I was pleased the author thought it deserved a mention in his book. RIP.’ – Donna Moran
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