THURSDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2017
A Dragonfly Film and Television production for The BBC
Finlay Milne / Alex Hay
Jo Hughes / Jemma Chisnall / Nick Leader
Kirsty Cunningham / Simon Ford / Danny Horan
West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedics deliver a baby, deal with prolific callers and surprise a drunk patient with their unexpected language skills.
Crewmates Justin and Dawn's first job of the day is a call to a woman whose waters have broken - Dawn hates delivering babies, but Justin loves them and within just a couple of minutes of arriving he has delivered the baby. Justin reveals he used to be a butcher, but this job makes him feel self-worth that he had never felt before.
When Justin and Dawn are dispatched to their next patient, it's a name all too familiar to them. The woman has called 999 four times already that day and is one of a handful of prolific frequent callers staff across the ambulance service all know well. Although she has carers, like many such cases, her support workers are not available out of hours so it falls to the ambulance service to go round to reassure her. As they leave, Justin reflects that nowadays the paramedic role feels like they are 'social workers with first-aid skills'. It won't be their only visit to the woman this evening.
With pubs and clubs beginning to close, Justin and Dawn are called to a very drunk male in the city centre. Justin employs his unexpected Punjabi language skills, picked up from his days as a waiter in a curry house, to help coax the nearly incoherent man off the floor.
In the control room, another of the region's most prolific callers is on the phone saying he is having an epileptic fit. A past brain injury affects his behaviour and he is one of 50 patients in the West Midlands who have to have police to accompany the ambulance crew every time they attend. This man has called 999 six times already that day but when the crew arrive, they find he is running low on medication and food supplies.
Natalie and Nat are dispatched to Jean, who hasn't left the house in over a year as the family haven't been able to afford to pay for a ramp to be installed. It takes five crew and the daughters to help her out to the ambulance so they can take her to hospital for some much needed tests.
Whilst a crew are sent to deal with a suspected deceased male that no one has spotted for two weeks, Darren and Melanie are dispatched to the male repeat caller again. They are the 274th crew to have been dispatched to him in the past three months, along with a paramedic officer and the specialist mental health car. The man does not need to go to hospital despite his assertion that he will die if they don't. Like most of their frequent caller cases, it is not a medical emergency but as the crews discuss the challenges of the case outside, they can't see an easy solution - he needs better support but frequently refuses that, as is his right, so it becomes a vicious circle. Justin reflects that the role of the ambulance service has changed, with the ageing population, spiralling demand for social care and cuts in funding, more than ever they are being for called for non-emergencies.