Shropshire Star comment: Time to be proud of ambulance service
The PR and marketing department at West Midlands Ambulance Service can give itself a pat on the back after the BBC One show Ambulance won a Bafta.
It showed a number of things: the heroic work that our ambulance staff provide day in and day out, the pressures they are under, the way in which they are viewed by the public and the strains they face as they try to save lives and deliver emergency health care.
More importantly, it raised into the public conscious several issues that would otherwise be ignored or downplayed as other news stories vied for attention.
Like David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and the issue of plastic, Ambulance has made the masses aware of such issues as ambulances waiting outside hospitals because units are too busy to admit new patients. And, like Blue Planet, the public has reacted with horror and astonishment that such matters have not been easily rectified.
The production company that made the series, Dragonfly, seemed to work without an agenda. Rather than sensationalise or politicise, it simply exposed uncomfortable truths and allowed viewers to make up their own minds. The manner in which the show was made showcased the best of British documentary talent.
Here in the West Midlands, we can take comfort from the fact that our ambulance crews were displayed in such a good light. As ambassadors for a hard-pressed service, they did the people they serve proud. Committed, hard-working, highly-skilled, professional and personable, the public face of the ambulance service was one that we could all warm to.
The issues faced on a daily basis were jaw-dropping. Though the ambulance service is frequently in the headlines, the show took a number of issues out of abstract territory into the realms of realism.
Viewers could see for themselves what it is like to be an ambulance driver with a sick patient in the back who isn’t allowed into a hospital because the creaking NHS is under-staffed and under-funded. They could see how people tried to mitigate against difficult working conditions while managing the expectations of members of the public.
Ambulance showed us that being a member of a local crew isn’t a job for the faint-hearted. It is demanding and difficult and one that few are suited to.
Those who agreed to let the cameras in have done a great public service.
We can but marvel at the men and women involved.