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Ghetto Medic

A Father in the 'Hood

Rachel Hennick

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  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.00" x 9.00"
  • ISBN: 978-1-938144-02-8
  • Publication Date: 2012-07-01
  • BrickHouse Books, Inc.

Availability: In stock

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Paperback$22.00

Ghetto Medic

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Ghetto Medic: A Father in the ’Hood is the remarkable true story of the life of Bill Hennick, a firefighter and paramedic in Baltimore, Maryland, a city which today boasts the busiest fire stations in the United States. The story begins in 1945, when Bill, aged four, is badly burned in a terrible fire started by an older child playing with matches. When he reaches adulthood, he begins searching for his purpose in life and identifies fire as “the enemy.” He joins the still-segregated Baltimore City Fire Department at the height of the civil rights movement, witnesses the race riots of 1968 which followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, and battles the ensuing infernos.

When the upper and middle classes abandon the city, Bill sees a “wasteland” and develops empathy for those people left behind. He tries to make a difference by becoming a paramedic, a service then in its infancy. His story is set against the history of Baltimore, known for its rich black heritage, the home of jazz legends such as Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway. He embarks on a spiritual journey as he risks his own life in caring for the poorest of the poor in a city with one of the world’s highest crime rates.

In this poignant biographical memoir about her father, Rachel Hennick tells a dramatic American story with vibrant characters, pathos and a twist of humor. Ghetto Medic penetrates the heart with a thought-provoking and universal message about the enduring power of compassion.


"If H. L. Mencken were here he would say, 'Go out immediately and buy a copy of Ghetto Medic' for nobody knew more than Mencken about story telling, language refinement, or the city of Baltimore. This book is an absorbing tale, beautifully written, and tells us more insightful facts about Baltimore than we ever thought we would know. How I wish there were more family memoirs in our literature, and I know that Mencken, arch-memoirist, would agree."--Dennis Smith, author of the bestseller Report From Engine Company 82 and founder of Firehouse Magazine.

"Bill Hennick is an unsung hero in the history of Baltimore and in the battle against racism and segregation in the south. He was a daring fire fighter and medic as an adult and a victim of a devastating fire when he was a young child. His remarkable story, a courageous comeback, is vividly told by his daughter, Rachel Hennick, in her new book Ghetto Medic."--Lee Gutkind Author and Editor, Creative Nonfiction

"[Ghetto Medic] has the tension of a good novel. It reads easily pulling me through with every turn of the story. Though I know the outcome, I know not the tale. Though I know the ending of some of the story I am riveted by Hennick’s telling of it."--Marc Steiner WEAA 88.9 FM

"A beautifully written, instantly captivating account of one man's unfaltering dedication to helping those in need. A story of incredible courage, empathy and compassion, Ghetto Medic leaves the reader touched, inspired."--Craig Jurisevic, author of the Australian bestseller Blood on my Hands (soon to become a film produced by Academy Award winner Eva Orner)

"This book about the paramedic career of the author's father is packed with many amusing anecdotes and well told stories. It transports you to Baltimore in the 1970s and 1980s. It tells tales that are individual, but will be instantly recognizable to paramedics from all around the world. It is entertaining, amusing and in places poignant. It is a fitting tribute to a dedicated and caring man and his profession. It is well worth a read."--Australian of the Year 2006, Associate Professor William (Bill) Griggs AM ASM Director, Trauma Service, Royal Adelaide Hospital

"This is a frightening and uncomfortable history, told with vivid evocation and a strong sense of event. It describes what has become a forgotten experience in a way that makes us relive it with the added sense that it is universal and, alas, repeatable. Rachel Hennick makes the vast social world at once personal and immediate. This is writing that cannot be put down; it tingles with life and authenticity."--Thomas Shapcott, award winning author and Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing, University of Adelaide


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Rachel Hennick

Rachel Hennick holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in English from the University of Adelaide, South Australia (2009), where she completed her dissertation on "The Ethics of Biographical Memoir." She earned a Bachelor of Science, Interdisciplinary; Business and Writing from Stevenson University (2002) and an Associate of Arts Degree, Communication Arts; Television and Theatre from Stevenson University (1990). She has worked at radio stations in Maryland and in the Washington D.C. area as a copywriter, on-air personality and traffic manager. She was a promotions manager for a music venue and later, a sales manager in the audio industry. Rachel managed and co-owned a pottery store at Harborplace, Baltimore’s main tourist attraction, before moving to Australia. While studying she worked as a business development manager for the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

In 2004, she was awarded the Arts SA prize for creative writing and an International Scholarship from the University of Adelaide. Her short stories have appeared in the literary journal Island, The Australian Women's Book Review and on Radio Adelaide's Arts Breakfast. She is the author of two books: Ghetto Medic: A Father in the ’Hood, a biographical memoir and Ketut’s Kitchen: With Love From Bali, a biographical cookbook. Both will be published in 2012.