The first summer after High School I took an EMT class, mostly because it was a good way to fill the summer without having to get a real job. I discovered I liked the challenge and idea of prehospital care, and after a year of college, I began to work full time in an Emergency Department while taking Paramedic classes. The text was Nancy Caroline’s “Emergency Care in the Streets”, which was the standard text of the time for the emerging field of professional prehospital care. In many ways this was my first introduction to ‘real’ medicine; acid-base equations, cardiac rhythms and their diagnosis, emergency medications, etc. The book was well written and entertaining, and it spoiled me; I still expect EM texts to have the same style and sentence construction in every chapter, which is not the case (the current standard, Tintinalli, has one zillion chapter authors, and although some effort was given to uniformity of presentation, the differences in writing styles can be jarring). Moreover, it teased me, fired the imagination: if I can do this, what else could I do? She never heard of me, or of the many her text taught and touched.
I read of her death today, of cancer, at the age of 58. I will always appreciate her for turning the head of this West Texas kid toward Emergency Medicine.
Thank you, Nancy Caroline, MD.