I love real life ambulance programmes. And ones about hospitals. It's my guilty pleasure. Ambulance, Inside The Ambulance, 999 Rescue Squad, 24 Hours in A&E, 999 What's Your Emergency... I could go on... I watch them all. Well I tape them all (ok, I know you don't 'tape' things these days but I'm showing my age and you know what I mean) and if I get some time to relax in the evening once the girls are in bed a sit a binge watch until way past my bedtime.
I love them for a number of reasons – I have the utmost respect, gratitude and admiration for all our NHS staff and our emergency services and these programmes are a great insight into the amazing work they do but they are also a great reminder for me to count my blessings and keep sight of what is really important in life – family and friends.
What really strikes me every time I watch something like this is the urgent and professional response to often catastrophic circumstances. In one such case, an emergency call is received about a man involved in a terrible car accident who has suffered life threatening injuries. Within minutes help is scrambled – emergency response vehicles, ambulances and a helicopter. Altogether, 10 highly trained paramedics and doctors arrive to help save this man's life, performing surgery and giving a life saving blood transfusion on the side of the road.
None of them knew this man, but saving his life was the priority for them all. His life was of such value that all these people did all they could to keep him alive. They didn't check he was a good husband before they gave him pain relief, they didn't need to know if he had a good job or if he was struggling with debt before they protected his airway and they never paused to check if he had been daft enough to drink before driving before they rushed him to hospital. Whoever he was, whatever his strengths or his failures were, none of that matters in the moment – his life is worth so much. No matter what the circumstances, every person is deserving of help and every life is worth saving.
So, my many hours of watching such programmes has led me to share 5 lessons we should all remember:
1) Your life is priceless
Just like the man above, if you found yourself in an accident, complete strangers would rush to your aid – saving your life, and indeed your quality of life, would be the only thing that mattered to them. Whatever it took, however many people or resources it required, they would do everything possible to keep you going. It is really important that we remember this – especially on days when we feel we might have let someone down, or cocked up at work or when we just feel a bit useless. We are as priceless and irreplaceable when we do things wrong or when we feel a bit of a failure as we are when we feel on top of the world.
2) Don't put off living your life
Another stark insight you learn from watching hospitally programmes is how quick things can change – how quickly unplanned events can cause tragic outcomes. We need to remember that tomorrow is never promised – stop waiting for 'the right time' or 'until tomorrow' – make the decision to make each day count.
3) Ask for help
Let's face it, us grown ups can be a bit rubbish at asking for help. The emergency services are there for us all in times of need, but we need to remember it doesn't always have to be an emergency for us to ask for help from other sources. We would never dream of trying to patch up a broken leg ourselves whilst putting a brave face on it, yet we somehow think we have to cope with everything else that life throws at us without any help. Maybe it is sharing problems with a friend over a brew, seeking financial advice when you find your bills mounting up, confiding in someone if you're struggling or even just asking the tall person in the supermarket to reach you a packet of biscuits off the top shelf. People are often more than willing to help if only we get to the point of asking. Life is a complicated journey – sometimes we need help, and sometimes we can be the helper. If we all ask for help when we need it, we can all be stronger together.
4) Value yourself
I know I keep harping on about it but I am going to say it again – if your life was in danger, complete strangers would rush to save it. They know how precious you are to your friends and family and they know how much you are loved. So make sure you value your own worth as much as these complete strangers would! Do something you love, treat yourself to something nice, celebrate how wonderful you are. If a complete stranger recognises your value, isn't it about time you did...
5) Take things as they come
A paramedic clocks on to a 12 hour shift with absolutely no idea of what's ahead of them. They have to take each job as it comes and deal with that job to the best of their ability before moving onto the next. They can't dwell on the job they have just done, worrying about whether they could have done something differently and they can't pre-empt any future jobs, going over things that might happen over and over because they have no idea what these future jobs will be. They have to be in the moment, just dealing with things as they happen- and this is a good lesson for us all (especially for my fellow overthinkers!) We all need to take each day as it comes, doing our best at the time and then moving on – not reliving the past or inventing a possible future.
And on that note, I am off to take the next episode of Helicopter ER in my stride...