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PREVIEW: Ambulance, BBC One

The first episode of a new series of the Bafta Award-winning Ambulance, filmed earlier this year at an unprecedentedly difficult time for the NHS. Cameras focus on a new cast of characters drawn from the staff of North West Ambulance Service, as they care for the 1.4 million people of Merseyside.

The whole of the country is in lockdown as crews across Merseyside book on for the day shift. In the Regional Operational Coordinating Centre, plans are well underway to tackle the immediate threat to life being posed by Storm Christoph, which is about to rage through the North West. The storm adds yet more pressure to a service already battling the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Crewmates Emily and Jo are first of the morning shift to be dispatched to a patient who is not breathing and is feared dead. This is the call Jo dreads, as she has only recently lost her mum. She fears it will have a profound emotional impact on her, even though she is saved from attending the scene.

With little time to recover Jo and Emily are dispatched to reports of a road traffic collision caused by the storm. Paramedic Chris is also sent to manage the scene. Once on scene, the patient is found to have had a lucky escape, but must still be taken to hospital - which leaves Chris reflecting once again on how his fellow scousers have faced the pandemic.

Across Liverpool, ambulance crew Sarah and Mark are dispatched to their second patient of the day - a woman who is struggling to breathe. The patient is initially reluctant to attend hospital but after some gentle persuasion agrees to go. Once safely on board the ambulance her gratitude for the crew and the NHS shines through, as Sarah and Mark modestly shrug off her compliments.

Five hours into the shift, and the team have already treated over 290 suspected Covid-positive patients. Emily and Jo’s fifth call out of the day is to a Covid-positive patient. Whilst on scene, it turns out Covid has rippled through the family and is continuing its spread to them all.

There are now 258 patients waiting for an ambulance and the pressure on the service is building with no signs of the storm easing. Emily and Jo are on scene with their third covid patient of the day. As Emily tries to find a way to keep the patient out of hospital, a passerby hands the crew-mates a gift, leaving Emily to reflect on how hard times have been.

Ambulance airs Thursdays at 9pm on BBC One.

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