Ambulance — The Weekend Shift


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Aired: 2016-10-11
Season: 1.0
Episode: 3.0

Tonight the London Ambulance Service braces itself for a demanding weekend shift. As Londoners head out to play, the Ambulance Service often has to pick up the pieces and prepare for a torrent of cases, all with their own unique challenges.

In Brixton, Advanced Paramedic Rich helps a man who's out of control and lashing out in a nightclub after taking a drugs overdose. The control centre is under pressure as five babies are being delivered by the call handlers over the phone tonight.

By Saturday night the streets of London are a huge challenge for the service: as the pubs begin to close, the violence escalates. The ambulance dispatchers are forced to make tough calls about who gets an ambulance quickest and who will have to endure a long wait - when a call about a stabbing comes in they have make the difficult decision to divert a crew from a six year-old who has fallen from a bunk bed. A couple of hours later, the same crew attend their second stabbing of the evening; it's the seventh across London that night.

Stabbings fuelled by drugs or alcohol are becoming an increasing feature for the weekend shift, but sometimes the most urgent calls are more straightforward than the social care ones; a man who has left hospital without being discharged needs returning to have his cannula removed. Homeless and wanting a sandwich, the crew debate whether it's their job to offer him the support he wants. They know there are always other pressing emergencies they could be attending.

Later the control centre has the tough job of telling a frequent caller who desperately wants to go to hospital that they won't be taking him as he's not sick enough to get emergency care, even though he does need support. As many care services in the capital aren't available all hours, the ambulance service end up being asked to pick up the pieces.

When at the end of the weekend a call about a miscarriage comes in, it's the type of emergency that the ambulance staff are trained for, but all the preparation in the world can't always shield them from the emotional toll sharing a personal tragedy can have.