Book Reviews

Book Review: Paramedic – Buff to Burnt

Paramedic, George Steffensen, shares memorable patient encounters, events, and partners in his biography Paramedic – Buff to Burnt. George uses “Buff” as a noun and a verb. A “Buff” medic has a heavily equipped hero belt – flashlight, shears, glove pouch, window punch – and the hero ego to bring patients back from the edge of death. To “Buff” a job means using paramedic skills to intubate patient, needle decompress a chest, start multiple large bore IVs, and / or push medications with rapid assessment and minimal transport time.

About the Paramedic-Buff to Burnt

After introducing his career and defining “Buff and Burnt” George shares details from dozens of patient encounters from his career as a medic in New York City. Cases are grouped together in categories like shooting, jumper, man under, kids, burns, and cardiac arrest. Each case is a quick report of the dispatch information, assessment findings and treatments George and his partners were able to provide. He also highlights interactions with other emergency responders, like police and fire, in some of the stories. When available he shares why the patient was killed, such as a drug deal gone badly, and details on the patient outcome.

Book for EMS Students, Professionals, Educators, and Historians

Students and new EMS professionals will enjoy Buff to Burnt because it shows them the range of calls and emotions they will likely experience in an EMS career. Experienced professionals will find some solace in hearing from another veteran that Buff jobs lose their appeal and excitement over time. Educators and historians will also find Buff to Burnt useful. George’s real life cases could be modified for patient assessment drills, simulation lab scenarios, or mass casualty drills. George also captures historical treatments for major trauma and cardiac arrest. Medicine is dynamic and some aspects of emergency care are handled very differently now than they were fifteen or even five years ago.

Reflection on Becoming Burnt

As the book progresses awareness of George’s burnout with the job and people becomes more and more obvious. It culminates in a story about a negative and derogatory comment he made to a bystander. The thing missing from this story, and most of the book, is reflection on what he would do differently in that situation again or if it was an incident he was ashamed or proud of.

Where to Find

Paramedic – Buff to Burnt is available through the “buy direct from the author” option on Just look for the $8 buy new option (plus shipping) direct from the George. Listen to George discuss Paramedic – Buff to Burnt on the Medical Author Chat podcast.

Read more reviews of books written by paramedics or submit a review of a book you have written.

  1. Mass Casualties
  2. Saber’s Edge

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.