Tragedy of double bus crash in Orpington revealed in latest episode of award winning ‘Ambulance’ documentary

Episode 5 of BAFTA award winning ‘Ambulance’, broadcasting Wednesday 14 October at 9.00pm on BBC One, catches on camera the heroic efforts of London Ambulance Service crews that race to the scene of a three vehicle crash.

Maisie and Nicola stood in front of an ambulance
Maisie (left) and Nicola (right)

In the middle of an already busy night shift last year on Halloween, calls start to come in to the Emergency Operations Centre with reports of multiple casualties from distressed passengers on two buses that were involved in a collision with a third vehicle.

Rachel and Pete, two London Ambulance Service (LAS) incident response officers, each have around 12 miles to travel to reach the scene in Orpington where they will take control of the ambulance service’s response to the incident, coordinating the many skilled clinicians to ensure each patient gets the right care as soon as possible.

The crews on scene include 10 double crewed ambulances, two Advanced Paramedic Practitioners (APPs), units from the Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and a London’s Air Ambulance team who have arrived by road. In all, around 40 London Ambulance Service staff responded to the scene.

Nicola and Maisie, a Mum and daughter crew who work together on a double crewed ambulance, join LAS colleagues on scene to treat the injured and traumatised.

Maisie tends to one of the bus drivers, treating his injuries and comforting him as the enormity of what has just happened starts to sink in.

Emergency Ambulance Crew Maisie, who has been with LAS for two years and was just 20 at the time of the crash said: “A scene like that is so chaotic, it can feel overwhelming. When I look at what other people my age are seeing and experiencing, it’s very different to my job. 20 year olds don’t really find themselves in those situations.”

In all, LAS treated 15 patients at the scene of the crash. Sadly, one of the bus drivers tragically died from his injuries.

Garrett Emmerson, London Ambulance Service CEO, said:

“It is heart-breaking to see such a scene of devastation where so many people have been injured and tragically, a London bus driver lost his life.

Maisie and Nicola stood in front of an ambulance
Maisie (left) and Nicola (right)

“The expertise and professionalism of London Ambulance Service colleagues is evident for all to see, from the call handlers talking to the injured and traumatised on the phone, to the incident response officers in charge of the scene, to the paramedics providing that one to one care at the roadside.

“We are constantly innovating so that we can keep pace with the various and ever-changing emergency and urgent care needs of nine million Londoners. Often today that can mean sending specialists in midwifery, or mental health, or elderly fallers. Sometimes though it means lots of resources in one place, making sense of a chaotic scene, and saving multiple lives at a significant or major incident.

“We come into our own during those dark times and I take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone involved in responding to the incident in Orpington last year, and to those across the Service who have responded to any largescale incidents in the capital.”

Debbie and Liam stood next to an ambulance
Debbie and Liam

As well as the road traffic collision in Orpington, episode 5 also features a raft of other incidents including the birth of a baby delivered at home by crew Debbie and Liam, an 86 year old woman with breathing difficulties, and a 12 year old who suffers a non-serious injury in a very delicate place thanks to a dog jumping up at him!

As the series passes the half way mark, it’s gripping audiences up and down the country with over 3.5million viewers on the night in addition to those who watch it on catch up.