A Vital Part of a Community

Emergency Response Services are integral to the health of our communities. As valuable as these services are, one can ponder where did it all begin? Bonus is you won’t need to ponder, simply pick up the latest published book by The EMS Foundation of Calgary, Vital Signs: A Half-century of Emergency Medical Services in Calgary.

This book was beautifully researched and written by Zoey Duncan. It goes beyond the historical facts and instead focuses on each era and the significant stories from those who were part of it. Combined with a collection of photos and images that give you a sense of where they started and how it built the foundation for where EMS services are today.

As you peruse through it, you will learn how it was because of a group of caring citizens who saw a need and simply filled it and there were a lot. To a system that is specialized and under one umbrella.

When I was contacted about this project, at first I was thrilled with the idea of contributing to such a valuable piece of history, and with that came a lot of responsibility to ensure we created a quality professionally design book that those in the book and those who know those in the stories would be proud to have a copy in their hands.

Before digging into the design of the book, Tim Prier reached out and asked to get started by creating a poster announcing the project and to get interest in the concept.

EMS-Foundation-Poster-v1.jpg

The concept for the creative design of the poster was inspired by the foundation’s colour pallet and the texture of the uniforms in the industry. The colour orange contrasted well to the dark denim look. The use of the rugged typeface nodded the historical and enduring as well as well used feel of equipment and impact of being in the field.

So when it came time to start designing the cover this was the starting point and from there with the feedback from Tim, Zoey and the foundation we worked through quite a few different looks and directions.

While considering the designs, we also considered two different size of books. Option one was a standard 6” x 9” book with basic one column copy and slotting in photos where we could. It wouldn’t have as much design inside. Because of this, it was agreed to go with the more unique square design of 8.5” x 8.5”.

Above you can see the title of the book is not where we ended up. During the design and editing of the content layout the contributors were unsettled with the title and worked through a few different options and eventually landed on Vital Signs. It was felt it reflected the paramedic industry and was easier to refer to. The tagline and description helped to summarize what the book was.

While the cover design was debated I pushed through with the content and layout design. Below is what the content look would have been for the standard 6” x 9” book. This design would have easily translated into a digital ebook version, but the feeling and end result is not what the foundation was looking for.

Design concept for a 6” x 9” book layout.

Design concept for a 6” x 9” book layout.

It was after comparing the two layouts that the final decision was made to purse the square book instead.

vital-signs-square-content1.jpg
vital-signs-square-content2.jpg

As you can see, this rough flow of a chapter showed how by incorporating a two column style we could design a book that did a better job of featuring the images and ensuring the content supported the look and feel of the eras in the industry.

This rough design had minimal design elements, like colour, standard typeface and not much else. But the structure was sound. From there I could expand the design to give the book a unique look that took advantage of the use of colour throughout the publication.

Once the book was finalized the foundation set up an account with Ingramspark at my suggestion for their on-demand publishing needs. I finalized the artwork and assisted them in the uploading and finished publishing of their baby.

VS_Cover_1.jpg
VS_BackCover_1.jpg

The final design incorporated the new Vital Signs title and to keep the cost of the book reasonable using on-demand publishing, it was decided to go with a paperback end product and use the textured matte finish on the cover.

I tagged the EMS Foundation’s logo on the spine and back cover and didn’t include the officially published pricing to elevate the feel of the book. Giving the foundation the flexibility to adjust the sale price to their needs as they looked to raise not just awareness but funds to cover the cost of the writing, design and publishing.

The design had full bleed photos expand across the spine to give the sense of a management column size for readability.

The design had full bleed photos expand across the spine to give the sense of a management column size for readability.

The table of contents was kept simple. Each era had a collection of short stories, this way you could quickly find the year of interest and flip there.

The table of contents was kept simple. Each era had a collection of short stories, this way you could quickly find the year of interest and flip there.

Each era had it’s own unique cover page. The design was a full bleed in the blue denim texture with the use of the medical star icon to represent the number of ‘chapters’ included in the book. This treatment provides a visual reference as you flip through the pages to easily find the beginning of each section.

Each era had it’s own unique cover page. The design was a full bleed in the blue denim texture with the use of the medical star icon to represent the number of ‘chapters’ included in the book. This treatment provides a visual reference as you flip through the pages to easily find the beginning of each section.

vital-signs-1971-era.jpb
Adding in tweaked design elements like a column divider in orange and the photo descriptions in blue were subtle ways to add some flair and keep the look and feel of the book consistent across the spreads.

Adding in tweaked design elements like a column divider in orange and the photo descriptions in blue were subtle ways to add some flair and keep the look and feel of the book consistent across the spreads.

One of the more designed elements of the book was to translate a timeline into a visual spread to showcase the number of ambulance providers that began and ended over the years.

One of the more designed elements of the book was to translate a timeline into a visual spread to showcase the number of ambulance providers that began and ended over the years.

Speaking of timelines, I would like to share the realities of what it took to get this book created. There can be a misconception that because of the power of digital publishing that with a click of a button a book can be written, designed and published in a ridiculous short period and yes, sure that is true, but the end result will reflect the lack of respect for each element of the process.

Zoey had referred me to Tim Prier back in March of 2018. By this time, Zoey was in the final stages of finishing the transcript of the book, after working on it for five months. So I was brought in to get the look and feel of the book started and the collaboration worked well and we were able to work through the design process that began in June of 2018. So a year and half later we now have a published book.

Image from AHS website article on the release of the book. Photographed here, Tim Prier, cardiologist and board member with the EMS Foundation, and on the left and Darren Sandbeck, senior provincial director and chief paramedic with EMS showcasing the book.

Image from AHS website article on the release of the book. Photographed here, Tim Prier, cardiologist and board member with the EMS Foundation, and on the left and Darren Sandbeck, senior provincial director and chief paramedic with EMS showcasing the book.

The AHS has an article announcing the release of the book. You can read it here.

So there we have it, another amazing book released into the world! The value of print is integral to keeping our history alive. It was asked if the book has an ebook version and as of now no. As discussed in the beginning it was the purpose of the project to create something that Calgarians and it’s dedicated paramedic alumni could hold in their hands and re-live the stories in a real way. This type of layout could never be translated in an e-book for kindle or iBooks, where the reader can adjust the size fo the font which would throw of where images were placed and how things read.

I could see a value if there was interest in a digital version, where the 6” x 9” style of book would have translated, but I know it’s impact would have felt different.

Are you itching to have a copy in your hands? You can order on Amazon today!


Do you have a book ready to be brought into the world? I love working with authors with stories to share. You can reach out and join me for a one on one video call or phone call if that works. Book into my calendar today.