THE NHS winter crisis, shootings and stabbings reveal the moving human stories behind the sirens in the second episode of Ambulance on BBC One tonight, writes Neil Gordon.
The gripping documentary follows crews of West Midlands Ambulance Service over two shifts as Royal Stoke Hospital struggles to cope with the high volume of patients being brought in, and a Friday night nightshift, on a pay weekend in winter, proves to be busy for the specialist trauma team.
Paramedics Matt and Ian attend a series of serious incidents, from the stabbing of a 15-year-old, to a man attacked by a machete to the head, and two shootings – one of which is fatal.
Back in Stoke, paramedics Chloe and Katie attend to 65-year-old Terrence who thinks he is having a heart attack. Terrence is enduring a difficult time as he struggles to cope with life after his wife passed away. Chloe and Katie offer a listening ear and a reassuring presence.
Terrence has suffered ten heart attacks in the past, so the crew take him in to Royal Stoke Hospital to be checked over, even though they know he will have to wait alone in a corridor.
Later in the shift, Chloe and Katie again offer emotional support to another vulnerable patient, a woman who has taken an overdose and is intoxicated. She is a victim of domestic violence and feels worthless after being abused by her partner.
Crewmates Ozzie and Matt are dispatched to a four-day-old baby who isn’t breathing, and tensions are high as they rehearse the CPR protocol for newborn babies en route. When Ozzie can’t get a clear reading of the baby’s heart rate, they decide they need to take her straight into the Resus.
The day shift begins and the Ambulance Service is still struggling to cope with demand as ambulance crews are delayed at Royal Stoke Hospital, and their patients are forced to wait in long queues in hospital corridors.
Paramedics Dom and Sue are dispatched to 73-year-old Maurice, who has some nasty abdominal bruises. He discharged himself from Stoke Hospital four days earlier because he had already been waiting over five hours to see a doctor. Dom and Sue know there will be a wait to be seen but encourage him to stick it out this time. All they can do is take him in, where he joins the growing queue of patients in the corridor.
With an overwhelming number of patients and a shortage of beds, Royal Stoke Hospital is on the verge of declaring a major incident, which would mean shutting their doors to ambulance crews and their patients.
With the hospital under enormous pressure, Dom and Sue are called to Lesley, an elderly patient with diabetes. The crew find her dehydrated and apparently suffering a urinary infection. They have no option but to take her to hospital. With the pressure on the service and demand for their help spiraling, Dom wonders if he will be able to continue working 12-hour shifts for the next ten years at the pace they are going.
The second episode of Ambulance can be seen on BBC One tonight at 9pm and will be available on the iPlayer following broadcast.