BBC 'Casualty' Paramedic Advisor

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first response with casualtyBBC Medical Drama 'Casualty 'it's been 26 years in production and still going strong. How did I get involved? When I was a training officer for the Avon Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the BBC came to see about hiring our ambulances for what we thought was going to be an of episode about a night shift at A & E Department. We thought wrong!

During the filming it soon became apparent to the BBC the role of paramedic had not been researched and their skills and knowledge were not taken into account, yet alone actors driving ambulances on the public highway displaying blue lights. Oh my God I thought!


I looked upon this is a golden opportunity to educate people on the role of the ambulance service and the skills of its staff, in those days technicians, paramedics, control room staff and procedures. Having become aware of the complexities of our role I was invited to a meeting with the then boss of the programme Geraint Morris where I took him through my concerns for the program and how we could overcome it problems. After a meeting with our senior managers and Mr Morris, I was invited to become the paramedic advisor to the program. What does this involve?


First Response with BBC CasualtyThe first problem to overcome was to take the actors out for some basic driver training along with the manual handling tasks of loading and unloading the ambulance stretchers. It all starts with a telephone conversation with the writer on their storyline and how the paramedics deal with the patients, treatments and handovers at ED. This is the most important stage of the process as we can have such a big influence on how the scripts develop with the least of amount of changes as we progress with further drafts.


I am in constant communication with Pete Salt Clinical Nurse Advisor. Pete and I have known and worked with each other for many years. This has enabled us to provide a consistent approached both for the writers and actors, as well as the BBC technical staff.


1st Draft: This first draft involves development of the storyline by identifying procedures, treatments and actors dialogue. Further drafts 2nd, 3rd, 4th involve this same process as the writers, researchers, and editors may well change the storyline as we move from draft to draft. The final production draft hopefully will be the final one or will it!


We now meet up for the medical meeting. It's here where all staff involved in this episode meet up and go through the script. This gives everyone the opportunity to ask each other questions along with identifying any problems which have come up as a result of changes.


Shooting: It's during this period they have a set time limit on shooting the episode. It's here that I am grateful for the help of Dave Rawles another paramedic I have worked with for many years. During this filming we have to assist the actors to look like and perform like paramedics as if they have been doing this role for some years.


This opportunity has given me the chance to inform people on our role as paramedics, emergency care practitioners, ambulance control handlers/dispatchers/managers and as an ambulance service as a whole. I hope people are now aware of our skills, knowledge and training we have undergone to get his far and what we have achieved within the last 30 years.


We must remember that BBC "Casualty " is a drama and not a documentary and its always a balance between the two, but what I hope I have brought about is a greater awareness amongst the public on some of the issues we face daily, how we handle them and how they can affect us.


It still annoys me when I hear and read the media still calling us ambulance drivers, if we are ambulance drivers who is looking after the patient in the back of the ambulance? another ambulance driver!


What do you think, have I made a difference?

Last modified on Friday, 11 October 2019
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Clive Haddrell Cert Ed LIQA MSET

NHS Paramedic Tutor, NHS Ambulance Emergency Driving Tutor, FAETC 1&2, Cert/Ed, D32, D33, LIQA. Manual Handling Tutor (RoSPA) and Member of the Society for Education and Training. I have over thirty years experience with the former Avon Ambulance Service NHS Trust, and recently with Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust. My experience includes the role of paramedic tutor, rapid response motorcycle paramedic. For the last 25years paramedic advisor to the well-known BBC television program "Casualty".

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