Winner of the 2014 Bisexual Book Award for Fiction!

What do you do when you can’t function? After rookie EMT Piper Gallagher responds to a call outside a Los Angeles shopping mall for a man who can only tell her, “I can’t function,” the question begins to haunt her. How will Piper continue to function despite the horror she sees working in South Central, and despite her own fractured past? And how will the woman Piper loves continue to function as she experiences the aftershocks of her time spent serving in Iraq? Piper’s experiences as a rookie break her down and open her up as her genuine urge to help patients confronts the daily realities of life in the back of an ambulance and a hospital’s hallways. This vivid and visceral debut is a rich study in trauma—in its causes and effects, in its methods and disguises, in its power and its pull.

Purchase multiple copies for your book club at a discount with the In Case of Emergency Book Club Bundle!

Interviews and Extras:

Listen to Courtney Moreno discuss the book on the Poets & Writers podcast.

Read the Guernica interview with Courtney Moreno.

Listen to Courtney Moreno’s podcast on OtherPPL. Topics addressed: Bad news, not voting, bad attitude, mail, leotarded.

Check out the McSweeney’s Books Q&A with Courtney Moreno and Erin Minnick, her former co-EMT and an ER nurse at California Hospital Medical Center.

Read Courtney Moreno’s essay “Dealing With Trauma: An EMT On Coping Mechanisms”

Read the Writers on Writing interview with Courtney Moreno here.

Praise for In Case of Emergency:

“In this confident, well-paced debut novel, Moreno uses the story of a young woman involved in the exacting world of medicine, biology, and first-response care to examine themes of family and romance.”
Publishers Weekly

“Reminiscent of Leslie Jamison’s essay on medical acting in her collection The Empathy Exams, Courtney Moreno’s book uses the coping mechanisms she learned while working as an EMT to color her narrator’s painful past. Moreno confronts both physical and psychological trauma, expertly blurring the lines between the two.”
Huffington Post

“In this emotionally moving, well-written, engaging novel, Moreno strikes a profound balance between the clinical logic of trauma and the personal irrationality of a young woman dealing with her demons.”

In Case of Emergency is a dark love song, dark as a bruise, for the LA no one seems to see, but it’s also a careening, haunted, and hilarious ride. I will never look at a human ear, or hear a distant siren, the same way again.”
—Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here

“Moreno’s inspiring debut reads like it’s been written by someone with years of experience already under her belt.”
—K.M. Soehnlein, author of Robin and Ruby

“In Case of Emergency is a fine novel about coping with trauma. The EMS scenes are raw and believable and struck me as not exaggerated or excessive in any way. And though it will most likely be classed as ‘medical fiction,’ what happens outside the ambulance is just as gripping. In the end I was left with a feeling of dignity and humanity. A heartfelt execution of an engaging story.”
—Shannon Burke, author of Black Flies

“In Courtney Moreno’s In Case of Emergency the working class save the world and themselves. A wonderful first book!”
—Ali Liebegott, author of Cha-Ching!

“Moreno writes about physical and emotional damage with such precision that the reader feels supine, strapped into her own ambulance, careening from page to page. It’s a story about the greatest emergency of all: the plight of being a human with a fragile heart, beating amidst all these dangers.”
—Joshua Mohr, author of Some Things That Meant the World to Me

In Case of Emergency is here for you. To startle you into awareness. To remind you once again of the visceral urgency of desire, the urgency of fear, of loss, and of the fear of loss. To teach you about the eerie structures that undergird all that desire and fear and loss: organs and city streets, nerves and neighborhood maps, bones and veins and arteries. The patterns we use to make meaning from chaos. Also: the mysterious allure of risk, fear, and disaster. The calamitous pleasures of a thumping heart. You’ll love this book.”
—Stephen Beachy, author of boneyard

In Case of Emergency is a knockout debut with a wildly beating heart.”

“Moreno … explores the aftereffects of trauma with considerable insight.”
San Jose Mercury News

“The narration… relays the traumas of the job, punctuating the seemingly counterintuitive hands-on lessons [Piper] learns (‘do not treat; only label’) with all-organic nuggets of wisdom: ‘There’s nothing as painful as desire; wanting something only reminds you of your shortcomings.’ ”
SF Weekly

“[A] truly impressive debut novel from a highly skilled new author.”
The Masters Review

“Moreno’s debut is a visceral knockout with a wildly thumping heart — an acute meditation on human fragility and an exploration of compassion, fear, pain, and the ways in which we deal daily with trauma in all its forms. Packed with science, poetry and parable, In Case of Emergency pushes the reader to contemplate the plight and beauty of being human.”