THE FIFTH instalment of BAFTA winning documentary series Ambulance begins with a night shift as West Midlands Ambulance Service is receiving a high volume of emergency calls and is struggling to cope as almost all ambulances are assigned.
Specialist paramedic Peter is working solo in a rapid response vehicle and is kept busy dealing with the backlog. He is sent to a 16-year-old who has been attacked with a machete. Peter has to treat the wounds on the spot and then stay with his teenage patient at the scene while they wait for an ambulance to take the patient to A&E.
Peter is specially trained in extracting patients from difficult situations. His specialist team are dispatched to a man found in a canal. They don’t know how long he has been in the water but they must get him to hospital as soon as possible, performing CPR on the way, if he is to have any chance of survival.
In rural Warwickshire, paramedic crew Mark and Lucille are called to a patient who has been taken ill after a day out walking with her husband. The crew immediately recognise the lady’s symptoms and believe she’s having a heart attack, but they don’t want to unduly worry the patient by alerting her to what is happening before they can get her safely to hospital. Lucille has been in the service for 13 years and knows how imperative it is to keep her patient calm, even though they are half an hour from the lifesaving surgery the patient needs.
During the day shift, staff in the control room are feeling the strain again as calls continue to flood in. Coventry crew Dan and Vanessa attend to a woman with bowel cancer who’s suffering from acute abdominal pain. The disease is something Vanessa knows about all too well – her father was diagnosed with the same cancer three years ago, but is thankfully now in remission. The patient is desperate to see her daughter before the disease progresses further but she lives abroad and has been denied a visa.
In Birmingham, there are no jobs requiring Peter’s specialist skills so he helps with the backlog of lower priority calls. These jobs can be the most time consuming. His patient has called 999 complaining of ‘terrible pain’, but while the immediate ailment is easily treated with paracetamol it’s the longer term safeguarding issue that challenges Peter. He would rather be dealing with Category 1 calls, such as the double shooting that comes in while he is with his patient. Two air ambulances are scrambled to the location where it is unknown if the gunman is still present.
Controller Chris has finally caught up with the backlog of calls and dispatches Mark and Lucille to finish their shift attending to a woman with dementia who has a serious chest infection. The crew fear she has sepsis, which if not treated quickly can be fatal. They are touched by the love and support of the patient’s partner, who has been her main carer for 12 years.
Ambulance is on BBC One tonight (Thursday) at 9pm and will also be available via the iPlayer following broadcast.
According to figures released by BARB (Broadcast Audience Research Board) an average of four million people watched each of the first three episodes of Ambulance and the show was in the top 20 of programmes watched on BBC One during the week of broadcast.