One program that I try to catch each week is the fly on the wall documentary – ‘24 Hours in Emergency’, shown on SBS TV. The main reason that I enjoy it, is that it is filmed at King’s College Hospital, Camberwell, South London which was my training hospital and I love to see the panoramic shots around the local area, spotting haunts that I know so well. Not only did I train at King’s, I grew up just around the corner, so it holds a very special place for me. Plus I love hearing those South London accents belonging to the salt of the earth people who inhabit the surrounding suburbs and were once my neighbours. The program follows the patients who come through the Emergency Department doors in a 24 hour period. King’s is one of the busiest Emergency Departments in the world and has certainly undergone an amazing refurbishment in the years since I was a terrified student nurse working there – not my favourite placement!
The focus of most days is the red phone bringing news of the latest trauma victim which sees the team swing into action – teamwork at its best – everyone assigned their roles by the Team Leader working seamlessly to stabilise and treat their patients. What sets this program apart from other fly on the wall medical documentaries, is the emotional impact of the face to camera interviews with the medical and nursing team – they reveal a lot about their thoughts and feelings as they treat the patients, the responsibility that weighs heavily on their shoulders – something that in the hustle and bustle of a busy department goes unnoticed. There have been many lump in the throat moments whilst I have watched this program. The individual patients and their relatives are followed through their treatment – mostly the outcomes are good and you see the patients many weeks after they have recovered. They provide an interesting insight about what it was like being the patient or a relative coping with the shock of seeing a loved one sometimes at death’s door.
In a recent episode one of the RNs, the night supervisor, found himself admitted as a patient. A casual comment by one of the RNs that his eye looked very bloodshot and he should get himself checked out, led to a colleague taking his blood pressure – 180/110. A barrage of tests followed and revealed he had lung cancer! Surgery and ongoing treatment has seen him back at work and optimistic about the future. All that simply after a casual remark.
Amidst those requiring immediate life saving treatment are the usual collection of chair warmers with minor complaints which could have been treated by a GP. They often, unintentionally, provide the amusing entertainment element of the program!
If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a look from a professional and human interest perspective.