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BBC documentary: ‘Ambulance’

The BAFTA award-winning BBC One documentary Ambulance returned to the capital with a new sixth series following the work of London Ambulance Service.a group of paramedics in front of ambulance and Tower Bridge

The eight episodes – which were filmed during the autumn of 2019 – give an unprecedented insight into all the complexity of the life or death decisions necessary when providing emergency medical care.

Cameras follow the crews who race to save lives on the ground, taking the viewer directly to the beating heart of our NHS by telling the real story of the highs and lows of the ambulance service.

These are the real stories behind the sirens.

  • Episode 1 - Wednesday 16 September 2020
    Femi stood next to rear of ambulance
    Team LAS Emergency Ambulance Crew Femi

    Series 6 of ‘Ambulance’ begins following our crews and call handlers on a warm Friday morning shift as the summer draws to an end.

    Call handler Abbie takes a 999 call for a patient having a seizure at work and Mandy, one of our dispatchers, sends crewmates Kayleigh and Lauren to the scene. It becomes clear the patient is in cardiac arrest.

    Ambulance crew Kate and Femi are dispatched to a young man who is struggling to breathe. It turns out he’s suffering from severe anxiety.

    Viewers next see advanced paramedic Rory respond to an injury on the football field – while, in our emergency operations centre the number of assaults we are called about increases.

    Mandy reflects on what it is like to lose a son – something she has experienced herself.

    Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Ambulance and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more from the Team LAS medics and call handlers and about the themes and topics covered.

    Rewatch the episode on BBC iPlayer (this may be available for a limited time or no longer be available after 30 days): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000mn5p/ambulance-series-6-episode-1

     

  • Episode 2 - Wednesday 23 September 2020

    Episode 2 will air on Wednesday 23 September at 9pm on BBC One and goes behind the scenes of two busy weekend shifts where LAS faces the challenges of Extinction Rebellion protests and People’s Vote marches and an IT systems outage which means the Service’s Emergency Operations Centre control room teams must use pen and paper to take down information from 999 callers.

    Gary and Fabio stood in front of an ambulance car with The Shard in background
    Emergency responders Gary and Fabio

    Filmed in the autumn of 2019, viewers will see the variety of what a weekend day shift can bring for the country’s busiest ambulance service – from advanced paramedic Kevin responding to a cardiac arrest to crewmates Emily and Laura treating a 100-year-old who has fallen. All this while protests across central London pose the challenge of how crews can ensure they reach patients quickly.

    Viewers will also see Gary and Fabio – two of around 150 LAS Emergency Responders (ERs) – on shift. Retired police officer Gary and Fabio – who works in finance – volunteer their spare time responding to patients in the capital.

    Read more about the episode here.

    Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Ambulance and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more from the Team LAS medics and call handlers and about the themes and topics covered.

    Rewatch the episode on BBC iPlayer (this may be available for a limited time or no longer be available after 30 days): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000mvcp/ambulance-series-6-episode-2

    Hear more from star of episode 2, Jules Lockett, about what happens when we must go “to paper”:

  • Episode 3 - Wednesday 30 September 2020

    The challenges of being a 999 call handler from delivering babies over the phone to daily verbal abuse come under the spotlight in the next episode of BBC One’s Ambulance documentary on Wednesday (30 September).

    Amy at call handling desk
    Emergency call coordinator Amy

    Viewers see a newly trained call hander – Mackenzie – give advice to a woman in labour with twins and another deal with two abusive callers during the third episode of the latest series.

    In one call, emergency call co-ordinator Amy answers the phone to a woman who says she is being assaulted by her partner, but then launches into a tirade of verbal abuse towards Amy.

    Later in the episode Amy – who had worked in London Ambulance Service’s control room in Waterloo for less than a year when the series was filmed – deals with a call from a man who says he’s going to blow up a building, then refuses to tell her where he is and again subjects Amy to a series of abusive language.

    Masih and Johann stood next to an ambulance
    Masih and Johann

    Wednesday’s episode also features Australian paramedic crewmates Johann and Masih who attend calls including a 30-year-old man, recently homeless, who is experiencing chest pains.

    Johann and Masih are among more than 500 Australian paramedics working at LAS, making up almost of quarter of all paramedics in the Service.

    Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Ambulance and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more from the Team LAS medics and call handlers and about the themes and topics covered.

    Rewatch the episode on BBC iPlayer (this may be available for a limited time or no longer be available after 30 days): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000n1vx/ambulance-series-6-episode-3

  • Episode 4 - Wednesday 7 October 2020

    The fourth episode of Ambulance, filmed after people have just been paid and hit the town, gives a glimpse of what London looks like on a busy weekend and shows a series of violent incidents.

    The episode, airing on Wednesday (7 October) at 9pm on BBC One features Incident Response Officer Pete who is sent to the most challenging incidents.

    Pete sat in an ambulance car with its blue lights flashing
    Pete – LAS Incident Response Officer

    Just 30 minutes into his nightshift, Pete is on his way to a woman in cardiac arrest – the 999 control room describe her as the “sickest patient in London”.  Her son has called the police saying he had stabbed her.

    Meanwhile emergency ambulance crew Stuart and crewmate paramedic Rachel rush to treat a grandmother who is believed to be in cardiac arrest causing Stuart to open up about the heartbreak of when London Ambulance Service was called to treat one of his own family. He goes on to reveal how that moment changed his life.

    Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Ambulance and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more from the Team LAS medics and call handlers and about the themes and topics covered.

    Rewatch the episode on BBC iPlayer (this may be available for a limited time or no longer be available after 30 days): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000n7br/ambulance-series-6-episode-4

  • Episode 5 - Wednesday 14 October 2020

    Episode 5 of BAFTA award winning ‘Ambulance’, 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.

    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.

    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!

    Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Ambulance and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more from the Team LAS medics and call handlers and about the themes and topics covered.

    Re-watch the episode on BBC iPlayer here (this may be available for a limited time or no longer be available after 30 days).

  • Episode 6 - Wednesday 21 October 2020

    The sixth episode of ‘Ambulance’ follows London Ambulance Service staff and volunteers as they deal with a rising number of patients suffering from mental ill-health.

    David and Sarah next to an ambulance with The Shard in background
    David and Sarah

    Airing Wednesday (21 October) on BBC One, film crews follow Sarah and her crewmate David as they respond to a distressing call about a patient who has been pulled out of the Thames by a passer-by.

    They soon come to the heart-breaking realisation that this patient wanted to die.

    Sarah phones the patient’s best friend to let them know what has happened, and quickly takes the patient to hospital for further tests and mental health support.

    Later in the episode Sarah and David are called to a teenager who has been self-harming and is in obvious distress. The crewmates go above and beyond trying to calm her down and help distract her on the way to hospital.

    Other patient stories in the episode include Robert, a recovering alcoholic who is being cared for by his mum and dad.

    However, as time goes on, he reveals to ambulance crewmates Rosie and Keith that he has started drinking again and they see the emotional toll this has on his parents.

    Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Ambulance and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more from the Team LAS medics and call handlers and about the themes and topics covered.

    Re-watch the episode on BBC iPlayer here (this may be available for a limited time or no longer be available after 30 days).

  • Episode 7 - Wednesday 28 October 2020

    This week’s episode of the BBC documentary ‘Ambulance’ shows crews respond to a 999 call about a person hanging as figures reveal a rise in calls for suicide or attempted suicide.

    Stuart in an ambulance cab
    Emergency Ambulance Crew Stuart

    Episode 7 of ‘Ambulance’ (airing Wednesday 28 October) features a mum who calls 999 after finding her 36-year-old son hanging. The call handler tells Ursula how to give her son chest compressions as ambulance crews are sent to their home.

    When advanced paramedic Kevin arrives he realises they cannot save Daniel. Instead he comforts Ursula as she says goodbye to her son.

    In north London, paramedic Rachel and her crewmate Stuart reflect on how difficult it is for crews to respond to suicides.

    They are on their way to a patient who has cancer. It prompts Stuart to open up about his own battle with testicular cancer when he was just 20 years old.

    Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Ambulance and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more from the Team LAS medics and call handlers and about the themes and topics covered.

    Re-watch the episode on BBC iPlayer here (this may be available for a limited time or no longer be available after 30 days).

  • Episode 8 - Wednesday 4 November 2020
    Orani and Adam next to an ambulance with Tower Bridge in background
    Orani and Adam

    In the eighth and final episode of the sixth series of ‘Ambulance’, airing this Wednesday (4 November), viewers will see the emotional impact on London Ambulance Service staff and volunteers dealing with traumatic situations and how they depend on each other to help handle the difficult things they see and hear on a daily basis.

    Crewmates Abi and Ben are called to a passenger on a bus that has been stabbed in the throat. We also follow Kieran and Mick as they treat an elderly patient after a fall at home.

    Adam and Orani – a crew based in north London – are also shown responding to sprightly elderly gentleman John and to a woman suffering from addiction.

    Later, when back in the ambulance the experience of treating this patient affects Adam quite deeply and he unearths memories of his grandfather’s struggle with addiction over many years.

    It’s here that we see the support that Adam and Orani give each other and the close friendship they have formed over two years working together.

    Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Ambulance and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more from the Team LAS medics and call handlers and about the themes and topics covered.