Award winning BBC documentary series Ambulance is following frontline staff at the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) as they provide vital urgent and emergency pre-hospital care in the region.
Now on its ninth series, the team from production company Dragonfly were embedded with NEAS to film footage for the BBC’s BAFTA-award winning series between January and April this year.
At a time when the ambulance service has never been more under pressure, the series follows crews across Tyne and Wear, Durham and Darlington and Teesside.
Each of the 12 60-minute episodes for the upcoming series will feature the work of ambulance staff and the patients they treat during one particular shift, following them in real time alongside their colleagues in the Emergency Operations Centre where decisions are made in a highly pressurised environment.
Throughout the series, The Northern Echo will be profiling some of the people featuring in the series who are doing such a wonderful job on the front line.
Darlington-based paramedic, Rebecca Bynoe, aged 28, joined NEAS as an apprentice in September 2012, aged 18 after leaving sixth form college. She’s half South American and lives with her dog Willow.
Q. What attracted you to the job?
A. I always wanted to make a difference and help the community. Having come here straight from doing my A Levels, I feel like I’ve proved that you don’t have to go straight to university from college to succeed in life.
Q. What brings you to work every day?
A. I love the unknown about my job, every job and every day is different, you just don’t know what you’re going to be faced with. The emergency services is just one big family, and your colleagues get you through the good and the bad times.
Q. What is an average shift like?
A. An average shift can be exciting, emotional, and tiring. We are out attending to incidents from the moment we sign on until we sign off. But you have your crew mate and your colleagues by your side throughout the day.
Q. What skills do you think people need to be able to do your job?
A. You need to be able to talk, which I’ve always been good at since school (I was always getting told off for talking haha!) But you’ve also got to be a team player, without being able to work as a team the job will fail. You’ve also got to be open minded and able to control your emotions to an extent because it’s a job that definitely tests them!
Q. It can be a traumatic job at times, how do you look after yourself and what support do you get?
A. In this job we often see things we can’t unsee, and my colleagues are my back bone after a traumatic job because they understand what you go through. I also go to the gym to let out the stress and clear my head, or socialise with my friends and take my dog out. Oh I absolutely love a holiday, it’s a great escape.
Q. What has it been like working through the pandemic?
A. I isolated due to being clinically vulnerable which I found hard, because I was told to do something I wasn’t used to doing by staying at home 24/7 like the rest of the country. I really missed the interaction with my colleagues and patients.
Q. Where do you see your career heading?
A. I would love to specialise in critical care one day, but at the moment I’m still learning, every day’s a learning day in this job.
Q. How do you feel about being part of the BBC Ambulance show?
A. I was apprehensive at first but really enjoyed filming and having the chance to show the public how we do our jobs when we are with patients and the variety of jobs we go to, and the pressures we face. I loved every second of being involved, it was such a privilege.
Q. What impact do you hope the series will have in the North East?
A. I hope it shows what a great place the North East is and that we have the best banter in the UK, but also educates the public more on the emergency services they have supporting them
Q. What do you love about the North East?
A. I love how cheap the North East is and I love a Greggs pasty! It’s a great place to live and work.
Over the course of the filming, the service’s Emergency Operations Centre in Newcastle and Hebburn handled 162,257 999 calls and 219,844 111 calls, and dispatched ambulance crews to 125,382 incidents – an average of 1,045 incidents per day.
More than 200 people were part of this series, either in front of the camera or working behind the scenes to support the Dragonfly team.
NEAS employs more than 2,900 people and covers 3,200 square miles across the North East region, serving a population of 2.7 million people by handling all NHS 111 and 999 calls for the region, operating patient transport and ambulance response services, delivering training for communities and commercial audiences and providing medical support cover at events.
It has three emergency operation centres based in Newcastle, Hebburn and Wynyard and operates 175 double crewed vehicles and 220 patient transport vehicles as well as 45 rapid response cars, a fleet of support vehicles including driver training and specialist vehicles for the Hazardous Area Response Team.
In 2021/22, the service answered more than 1.15m emergency 999 and NHS 111 calls, with more than 270,000 patients taken to hospital, more than 48,000 patients treated and discharged over the phone and more than 115,000 patients treated and discharged at home. It responded to more than 22,000 C1 serious and life-threatening incidents in 7 minutes.
NEAS Chief Executive Helen Ray said: “The programme really shows how amazing our teams are in their care and treatment of patients. It highlights the dedication and commitment from every member of team NEAS as they strive to give the best quality care to every patient they meet. I’m incredibly proud of them all and would like to thank them for representing our service so well.
“Each episode shines a light on the wide range of patient needs faced by our service – whether that be emergency response for life threatening illness, support for mental health or social care needs, or alcohol and drug use. It shows clearly the pressure faced by our service and the wider health network around us, and the dedication of our brilliant staff to do their best.
“I hope this series of Ambulance also serves to inspire and encourage people to consider joining our service. Working for the ambulance service is so much more than a job, it’s a chance to really make a difference.
“It was a real pleasure to welcome the Dragonfly team and they were fantastic to work with.”