"The Heart Behind the Hero serves to remind us of the difficulties these rescue workers face everyday and, who knows, may perhaps inspire others to join them in serving the public." --The Dallas Morning News
"Touching, inspiring, heartwarming, dramatic, superbly written and presented ..." --Midwest Book Review
"The Heart Behind the Hero goes behind the action to the heart ... well worth a read." --The Billings Gazette
"Readers will never again take these heroes for granted." --The Daily Oklahoman
"The Heart Behind the Hero captures the true spirit of America's first responders -- the men and women who put their lives on the line each day for their neighbors and communities. Most touching is the special tribute to the fallen heroes who gave their lives in service to their communities. The Heart Behind the Hero will make sure they are always remembered." --Mary Ellis, managing director, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
"No long drawn out stories here. The narratives in The Heart Behind the Hero are to the point and directly from the source. By opening their hearts, these American heroes help others to understand them while nurturing their own well-being. Hopefully, this book will be the first of many volumes that can only enhance our culture." -- Ernie Di Maria, lieutenant (ret.), New York City Fire Department, author of FIRE: A War That Never Ends
"I found The Heart Behind the Hero to be not just an interesting compilation of stories from firefighters and paramedics, but also a release of emotional energy from each of the contributors. This book offers tips to rookies and veterans, alike. But it also pays homage to those who have died in the line of duty ... This book will be a priceless memento for their families and friends." --A.J. Heightman, editor, Journal of Emergency Medical Services
"The Heart Behind the Hero offers thoughtful and genuine insight into the compassion, feelings and emotional experiences of today's American fire and rescue heroes. This book promises enjoyable and entertaining reading for all." --Fire Chief Lester Tyra, Houston Fire Department, Houston, Texas
"The Heart Behind the Hero proves beyond any doubt that caring and courage are a double dose of belief that makes the firefighter unique in our society--someone who is tough enough to face tragedy, and tender enough to never let the tragedy be treated as trivial. As I read the pages of this book, I smiled in recognition of people that I have worked with and felt the emotion of those that I have never met, but understand. Curt and Karen should be commended for preparing this for all to enjoy." --Ronny J. Coleman, president, Fire & Emergency Television Network, California state fire marshal (ret.)
I'm not much on inspirational stories, so when The Heart Behind the Hero arrived for review I set it aside, hoping someone else would read it and do the write-up. But no one did. So I flicked through the book during lulls in the action.
"Like Reader's Digest, the book is composed of short stories, each taking no more than a few minutes to read. Pretty soon I had read the whole book, and was glad I had.
"It is a book about courage, tragedy and spirit. Most of the stories are first-person accounts written by firefighters and paramedics, many of whom work for city and county fire departments. Most of the stories are about their worst days, and how they've seen through the strength and inspiration provided by their colleagues, and their personal drive to assist people who need help.
"Wildland firefighters with state or federal agencies won't find a lot of their stories in this book. There's a tale by a smokejumper, and there are a couple of stories from wildfires -- the 1993 Malibu firestorm and 1991's Dude fire. But the bulk of the stories are about house fires, car wrecks, heart attacks and urban disasters, such as the Columbine High School shooting and the Oklahoma City bombing. The stories tell about death, courage, close shaves, guts, and that quiet void that swells inside of you after the smoke clears and the siren fades and the horror of what you've just seen replays endlessly in your head.
"Some of the moments are magical, such as when James Ellis, a battalion chief from Costa Mesa, California, sees hope emerge through the smoke of the Malibu firestorm: ' will never forget the feeling of helplessness that swept over me when I saw flames devouring the hose streams without hesitation. The howling wind sounded like a freight train and the smoke became so thick I lost sight of my men. We were facing a real firestorm and didn't have the manpower to stop it. My men were overwhelmed and in an instant it became a life or death situation.
" 'I swiftly started toward the front line to get my men out. Hearing something behind me, I turned to see what seemed like images at first, steely-eyed, lantern jawed, soot covered firefighters emerging from the smoke and advancing hose lines to support my men.'
"Heart has plenty of stories like this — real, scary, but with a silver lining somewhere, a thread of hope, that propels the writer onward in life. A message about how the writer found the courage to continue despite adversity.
"There are also several funny tales about life as a firefighter/paramedic. Playing pranks on rookies, rescuing a cat from a tree, that sort of thing. And there are numerous instances of how a firefighter/paramedic helped someone with a small act of kindness — in addition to saving a home or a life — and, in return, the firefighter/paramedic finds his life enriched.
"I guess that's what inspirational writing is all about.
"If you like stories that leave you with a warm glow inside, this book is for you. If you've had a bad experience, seen something awful, and can't quite make peace with it, give The Heart Behind the Hero a shot. It isn't a cure for grief, but it lets you know you're not alone. Heart knows that caregivers need caring too." --Brian Ballou, Wildland Firefighter Magazine
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