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You Break It, You Buy It: Owning the Life Behind the Broken Reflection by Dean Young

You Break It, You Buy It: Owning the Life Behind the Broken Reflection
By Dean Young; 2018, 100 pages
ISBN: 978-1-387-43130-4

February 20, 2019  By John Armstrong

Dean Young’s biographical account of his life to date as a first responder is raw and honest to the point of making the reader uncomfortable at times. Being a multi-disciplined first responder, I found myself identifying with the author’s scenarios and personal struggles to the point of being overcome with emotion.

Young’s self-deprecating honesty is engaging and gives real insight into the professional and personal struggles that come from being first on the scene.

The opening chapters of the book take the reader through scenarios all too familiar with first responders and follows a couple of them, including the author, from gut-wrenching scene realities back to their workplaces and homes. It is here that the book does its real work.

You Break It, You Buy It is not just another how-to manual on scene logistics, but a get-your-hands-dirty, in-the-trenches account of the destructive effect of operational stress on front-liners, coworkers and on those they hold dearest: their friends and families.


The last few chapters get a little cerebral and it becomes somewhat sluggish, reading more like a text book. But in the author’s defence, there is little value in looking under the bandage if you don’t offer a remedy to what you see.

Young does a good job of breaking down some complicated information into useable doses and leaves no doubt that he is well read and knowledgeable, both intellectually and practically, with the topic at hand. Young’s book is well worth the read if you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD or is in an occupation where the threat of being “irreparably broken” by mental health issues is a real possibility.  

– John Armstrong, a community peace officer and EMR in Alberta. He is also the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers chaplain.

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