This chapter sets the scene for this volume on Critical Perspectives on the Management and Organization of Emergency Services, as part of the Routledge Critical Studies in Public Management Series. This introduction discusses the contested nature of policymaking in these vital services, the theory-practice divide and what we mean by ‘critical’ when applied to management and organisation studies research. The aims of the book and the organisation of the chapters including short summaries of each of the chapters are outlined below with a call for further research into the organization and management of the emergency services.