In the spring of 2017, I recommended folks check out CBC’s web series Save Me. Season 2 of that project is on the way and looks at the types of people paramedics run into on the job. But while Save Me is scripted, Paramedics: Life on the Line is not.
From Lark Productions—the same folks behind Emergency Room: Life and Death at VGH—Paramedics: Life on the Line, debuting Tuesday at 9 p.m. PT on Knowledge Network (and online for those not living in B.C.), follows real-life paramedics and dispatchers at British Columbia’s Emergency Health Services.
“Building on our rewarding relationship with Knowledge Network, we are privileged to now work with BC Emergency Health Services and share their stories,” executive producer Erin Haskett said back when the project was announced. “This is a unique opportunity to provide viewers with an inside look at the work of the paramedics and dispatchers, share their daily experiences and directly see the impact they have on our community.”
And what a look it is. The opening credits—featuring sirens and a babble of dispatcher voices asking clarifying questions and dispensing advice—Paramedics instantly drops viewers into the whirlwind that is this career. It’s not easy. The aging population in the Vancouver area means more visits to seniors. And, with a stagnant number of ambulances on the road, that means stressful, jam-packed shifts.
Over at Ambulance Station 246, we meet Marco and Chris as they visit an elderly woman suffering from pain in her left arm following a fall. Donning their detective hats, the pair ask about the situation surrounding the incident—how did it happen, where did it happen—before assessing a suspected broken arm and shuttling her to the hospital. But aside from tending to his patient, Marco shows incredible patience and asks personal questions. That builds an almost instant relationship and trust. As Marco explains, he likes to help people regardless of the reason he is there.
Meanwhile, it’s chaos at the Dispatch Operations Centre. Where Marco and Chris can only answer one incident at a time, dispatchers juggle a flood of emergency calls, assess what type of service should be sent, and order them. In my mind, this has got to be the toughest job. I can’t imagine anything worse than attempting to get information from the concerned patient, family or friend in distress on the line. Footage of call taker Yehia on the line with the mother of an infant (“Is he awake? Is he breathing?”) is harrowing and horrible.
But Paramedics: Life on the Line isn’t just about the job; the 10-episode series also shines a light on the lives and relationships of those who do it. From Adam and Carol-lyn discussing Game of Thrones to questionable food choices and drivers who simply do not know what to do when a vehicle with flashing lights and a siren is trying to get somewhere quickly, the series is an incredible peek at the people who are truly putting others before themselves every day.
Paramedics: Life on the Line airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. PT on Knowledge Network. It can also be streamed on the Knowledge website.
Images courtesy of Talk Shop Media.