THE LATEST installment of Ambulance, the fly-on-the-wall documentary series that follows crews of West Midlands Ambulance Service, provides an insight into the growing problems of mental health issues.
With a 30 per cent rise in the number of calls to WMAS relating to mental health in the past three years viewers get to witness the problems and frustrations crews experience when trying to help a growing number of their patients who experience the trauma on mental health crises.
The shift starts with a series of category one emergency calls. Nina and Lauren respond to a caller whose mother has stopped breathing and is in cardiac arrest. The call handler in the control centre gives CPR advice over the phone while paramedics travel on blue lights to the scene. The target response time is seven minutes – if they arrive within five minutes, the patient’s chance of survival increases by 20 per cent. After delivering the patient to hospital, Nina calls to check in on her own mother, who is recovering from heart surgery.
Nina and Lauren are dispatched when a wife reports that her husband is choking on his food. The choking has stopped by the time the crew arrive, but they learn there is a more serious illness behind the difficulty in eating – the patient, a retired teacher, has only recently been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and his health is declining fast.
The day takes a surprising turn when a call comes in from a member of the public who has spotted a suicidal message broadcast on Twitter. Holly and the team in Control must play detective to find an address for the Twitter account to make sure the patient gets the care she needs. Paramedic crew Justin and Helen join police in searching the area to find the patient before her threats to harm herself becomes a reality.
At the same time, Dave and Lauren are called to an alcoholic patient who has overdosed. The patient has previously had markers that say he has weapons at his address, but with no police available to assist the crew must decide whether to risk entering without back-up. They find a man who is desperate about the destruction his addiction has caused. Dave draws upon his own difficult past to reach out and connect with his patient.
Programme makers Dragonfly won the BAFTA for Factual Series for the second series of Ambulance at the TV Awards last Sunday (13 May). A spokesperson for Dragonfly said: “We thank an incredible team, the West Midlands Ambulance Service and all the patients and families who allowed us in to show this important work. “Congratulations all round!”
Tonight’s episode of Ambulance can be seen on BBC One at 9pm (Thursday 17th May) and will also be available on via iPlayer.