Ambulance | Series 11 Preview (BBC One)
The ambulance service has increasingly become the safety net for those struggling to cope while still striving to deliver the very best care to a population of over 7.1 million amid the deepest crisis in the NHS’s 75-year history.
The shift begins with an emergency call to the North West Ambulance Service on behalf of an unresponsive patient. Crewmates Jess and Paul arrive on scene to find blood on the door, so they approach with caution.
In control, dispatchers Joe and Meg are managing the service’s scarce resources. They are responsible for 56 ambulance resources covering the whole 843 square miles of south and east Lancashire, including crewmates Mandy and Lauren who are sent to a local boatyard.
They find a 74-year-old man who has spent two days on the floor before being discovered by a neighbour. Due to the patient’s injuries, the crew must attempt a tricky extrication before transporting him to hospital on an urgent amber pre-alert, which means he will be admitted straightaway rather than wait in the queues.
In Burnley, Kiera and Cameron try to find support for a regular caller who lives alone and is evidently struggling to cope. As the first shift draws to a close, dispatcher Joe and the team in control respond to a category one call – the most life-threatening – for a 17-year-old patient in cardiac arrest.
As Joe hands the job over to the night shift, he reflects on the challenges of his work and reveals that his ambition is to become a paramedic, working hands on with those in need.
As the other crews begin to book on for the start of a new day shift, crewmates Kiera and Cameron are dispatched to their first patient of the day, a 34-year-old female who has taken an overdose. The job leads Lancashire-born-and-bred paramedic Cameron to reflect on the growing number of people in east Lancashire struggling with their mental health.
He shares his insight into grief as he has lost several people very close to him, notably his grandfather who inspired him to become a paramedic: ‘I think human beings are similar to champagne bottles. You can only shake them a few times until they pop. I can really empathise because I’ve been at that point where I’ve popped.’
The numbers of new calls are relentless – eight hours into the shift and call volumes have tripled from those inherited overnight. Cameron and Kiera are six miles away from a category two patient who has called for help following a drinking binge. The crew find the patient at rock bottom, though they are inspired to learn that, despite her relapse, she is determined to beat her alcohol addiction.
Meanwhile in control, call handler Zoe is on the line with a suicidal patient. Crewmates Jess and Paul are immediately dispatched to the call in progress. On arrival, they find the patient is suffering a mental health crisis and refusing to go to hospital. After requesting back-up from the mental health team, the patient becomes violent, and they have no choice but to vacate the property and leave the patient in the hands of trained mental health professionals.
In this episode, we introduce the staff of the North West Ambulance Service across Lancashire and shine a light on the increasingly multi-faceted role of the ambulance service today. We see how they have no choice but to go beyond the blue lights and sirens to provide a safety net for those with nowhere left to turn, while continuing to deliver life-saving emergency treatment to those most in need in a system that feels close to breaking point.
Ambulance returns Thursday 24th August on BBC One.