University of Minnesota Press

From his first days as a rookie firefighter and emergency medical technician to his command of a company as a twenty-year veteran, Jeremy Norton has made regular, direct encounters with the sick, the dying, and the dead. In his memoir, Trauma Sponges: Dispatches from the Scarred Heart of Emergency Response, Norton documents the life of an emergency responder in Minneapolis, revealing the stark realities of humanity at its finest and its worst. Here, Norton is joined in conversation with colleagues: Captain Ricardo Anaya, Captain Shana York, and retired Captain Bridget Bender.

Jeremy Norton has been a firefighter/EMT with the Minneapolis Fire Department since 2000. He was born and raised in Washington, DC, and was a high school teacher in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He taught creative writing at the Loft Literary Center before joining the MFD.

Bridget Bender is a recently retired captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department.

Ricardo Anaya is a captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department and has been a Minneapolis firefighter since 2015.

Shana York is a longtime firefighter and captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department.

Trauma Sponges is available from University of Minnesota Press.

"While many bear witness to injustice and decide that silence best serves their privilege, some use their privilege to dismantle the inequities that created the disparities in the first place. Jeremy Norton is the latter."
—Dr. Michele Harper, author of The Beauty in Breaking

"Trauma Sponges is a powerful book, by turns tender, brutal, and incisive, full of wisdom and wonder."
—Sam Lipsyte, author of No One Left to Come Looking for You and The Ask

"Norton is the Poet Laureate of Emergency Services, a writer whose talent and heart spark and crackle on every page, devastating and dazzling with equal measure. He sorts through the wreckage of the lives he's saved and those that were lost, presenting us with what remains: our raw humanity and, somehow, hope."
—Nora McInerny, founder of the Terrible, Thanks for Asking podcast and best-selling author of Bad Vibes Only

"With clarity and sensitivity, Jeremy Norton has written an eye-opening book that shows us what firefighting is often about: encountering medical emergencies more often than fires, helping strangers through the trauma of death and loss, and witnessing the ways that racism, poverty, and violence singe our society. Theirs is a particular courage that we must all celebrate."
—Dr. Sunita Puri, author of That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour

What is University of Minnesota Press?

Authors join peers, scholars, and friends in conversation. Topics include environment, humanities, race, social justice, cultural studies, art, literature and literary criticism, media studies, sociology, anthropology, grief and loss, mental health, and more.