TV

We hitch a ride with the everyday heroes of Paramedics

Lights, camera... sirens!

By Thomas Mitchell

There's no such thing as a standard day for a paramedic. And unless you've been in their shoes, it's hard not to be curious about people who save lives for a living.

That's why we're so excited about Nine Network's new factual series, Paramedics, which offers a rare insight into their day-to-day reality.

From the moment they receive an emergency call, there's no telling what precarious situation awaits them – or the type of patient they'll be attending to.

With more than 60 cameras rigged to ambulances, helicopters and motorbikes, every exhilarating moment is captured on screen.

Flight paramedic Matt.
Flight paramedic Matt.

TV WEEK catches up with three of the show's stars – Michelle, 35, Natalie, 39, and Mike, 28 – to ask them everything you want to know.

Can you describe what it's like to be in a speeding ambulance with sirens blaring, weaving in and out of traffic?

Michelle: It's certainly an adrenaline rush and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't exciting. But, at the same time, with the unpredictability of drivers and pedestrians, it can be nerve-racking.

Mike: It's exhilarating, because we drive in a way most people never get to. But it's also terrifying. If we're using lights and sirens, it means someone needs our help.

What's the scariest part of being a paramedic?

Michelle: I had a patient turn on me in the back of the ambulance after having the "green whistle" [a medicinal inhaler for emergency pain relief]. He tried to touch me inappropriately. When I told him to keep his hands to himself, he attempted to assault me with a raised, clinched fist.

Natalie: We've had to literally run away from an aggressive patient. The call-out was for a man who had overdosed on heroin. He was angry we had ruined his [drug] hit.

Michelle and Nicola.
Michelle and Nicola.

How does it feel to bring someone back from the dead?

Natalie: It's an incredible feeling to be called out to someone who's in cardiac arrest and to then resuscitate them. There's nothing like going home at the end of your shift knowing you've actually saved a life that day.

Is there one question you're always asked about being a paramedic?

Mike: Nowadays, people ask: "Have you ever been assaulted at work?"

Michelle: I often get asked: "What's the worst thing you've ever seen?" I always get that question.

Natalie: People ask me that too, but I never tell them, because although they think they want to know, they don't really want to know about the truly upsetting cases.

Jamie and Mike.
Jamie and Mike.

How do you switch off after a hard day on the job?

Mike: It's one of the hardest skills a paramedic will develop. Exercise clears my head and helps me sleep. Catching up with friends is always a good one too. Simply taking a break and experiencing "normal life" is really important.

Natalie: When I put on my uniform, I take on a different role and go into total work mode. But as soon as that uniform comes off, I'm back to being a mum, friend, sister, partner.

Michelle: There are times when particular jobs can play on your mind. But it's about debriefing in a timely manner and seeking professional help if it becomes too much. You just have to find balance.

What's the best thing that's ever happened on the job?

Mike: When I was very new in the job, we got a call at 5am for a woman in labour. That morning, we delivered a beautiful baby boy. It ended up being a 17-hour shift, but I was walking on clouds at the end of it.

Michelle: Getting appreciation from our patients and their families is the best part.

Natalie: I love to get updates. Hearing from people you've helped in the past is pretty special.

Paramedics airs Thursday, 8:30pm, on the Nine Network.

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