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What Could Possibly go Wrong? by Dr. Tony Bleetman

‘What Could Possibly go Wrong?’ by Dr. Tony Bleetman:

Originally published in 2012 under the title ‘You Can’t Park There!’, ‘What Could Possibly go Wrong?’ documents the story of Dr. Tony Bleetman and his journey as an Air Ambulance Doctor. We follow his narrative over a number of years as he helps the service – which is run on a completely charitable basis – modernise and bring the hospital to the patient.

‘What Could Possibly go Wrong?’ is another in the series of memoirs that I have read throughout 2019. See also:

Yes… I clearly have a little bit of a memoir problem!


I picked up ‘What Could Possibly go Wrong?’ in the heat of the moment, as part of a buy-one-get-one-free offer in a local bookshop – I always get sucked in by these! In part I was intrigued as a few years ago my parents had hosted a trainee Air Ambulance Surgeon, and I had been lucky enough to spend dinner times discussing their job, which they were evidently incredibly passionate about. However, I can never forget the times that they would come home and just say ‘it was bad…’ evidently crestfallen. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious about what these incidents were, but it would have been incredibly bad form (and in breach of patient confidentiality) to press.

After reading the blurb I felt I was in for a treat…

Whether describing cutting through a patient’s breastbone to plug a stab wound or barrel rolling a light aircraft at 5,000 feet, Tony Bleetman captures the sheer adrenaline of racing through the sky to save lives. You will learn how to land a helicopter on the side of a mountain, what it means to encounter death every day, and how to perform a tracheotomy in real life (clue: it doesn’t involve a ball-point pen).

Just as with The Prison Doctor’ I have mixed feelings about this book, although for completely different reasons. ‘What Could Possibly go Wrong?’ offers the reader a great sense of pace, adrenaline, and a quick moving narrative – full of suspense, high-speed action, and stories of great triumph. It’s a wonderful book to take on a full commuter train; light, compact, and easy flowing.

But, it was originally published in 2012 – and I think you can tell. Throughout the book there are moments of pure cringe when Dr. Bleetman refers to the women in his life, or just women in general. The language feels dated and out of place, in what is otherwise a book about progressive modern medicine. In fact, there was one particular section referring to Angelina Jolie  that made me shut the book in a great huff, much to the bemusement of my fellow commuters. At multiple points in the narrative I couldn’t help but wonder who Dr. Bleetman considered his target audience to be, and whether he was trying too hard to be ‘cool’ and fit in with the ‘lads’?

Looking past this ‘What Could Possibly go Wrong?’ is a wonderful example of the cutting edge of modern medicine. It brings a feeling of pride and immense gratitude to the reader. Gratitude for all our nurses, doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists etc… working on the front-line to keep us alive. Consistently striving for the best service and pushing boundaries. If you have ever known anyone who has needed the air ambulance, or even if you haven’t, I would thoroughly recommend this book, it truly is eye-opening.

What Could Possibly go Wrong? in Facts:

Author: Dr. Tony Bleetman
First Published Date: 2012
Publishing House: Eburry, Penguin Random House
Pages: 309 (307 as bulk read)

As I mentioned earlier the Air Ambulance in the UK is run completely through charitable donations, there are many different ways to support them. More information here.


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – The Reading Millennial

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