Saturday 1 October 2016

Documentary reveals how paramedics see the devastating effects of mental health issues

Published 05/05/2015 | 17:00

Paramedics help a man suffering from depression Credit: TV3
Paramedics help a man suffering from depression Credit: TV3
Paramedics on TV3 - Peter and Imelda help a man suffering from depression Credit: TV3
Paramedic Gloria Comerford Credit: TV3

Paramedics have to deal with more than just the physical side of health emergencies, as a new series reveals, mental health cases have become a major issue for frontline staff

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TV3’s latest behind the scenes documentary ‘Paramedics’ has, for the past fortnight, detailed the hectic routine of the HSE National Ambulance Service.

Now, in episode 4, it will give viewers an insight into how paramedics deal with the devastating effects that mental health issues have on people.

“Sometimes they’re sitting at the edge of the street and they just can’t go on. They physically can’t get themselves up to go home and sometimes you’ve just got to get down on the knee, hold their hand and just let them talk it out,” explains paramedic Gloria Comerford.

While paramedics are often first on the scene with these kinds of cases, it is another part of the emergency services that are the first point of contact for many people looking for help.

“It’s a part of the job that I never really expected when I came into it,” says Sandra Barrett, who works as an Emergency Call operator.

“When you think of an ‘Emergency Call Taker’, you think of the obvious things you know, bleeding, cardiac arrest and everything. You don’t really think of the suicidal thoughts, the depression side of it. It’s such a big part of our job as well. We have so many people ringing us for help.”

“We’ve gone to a lot of people who are not ringing an ambulance for a medical issue. They’re ringing an ambulance because they don’t know what other option they have. The might just want to talk to someone and for that person to tell them that it’s okay to keep living.”

Episode 4, which airs Thursday May 7, will also look at cardiac emergencies and the dangers involved in treating heroin overdoses.

Emergency Call Taker Sandra Barrett Credit: TV3
Emergency Call Taker Sandra Barrett Credit: TV3

Paramedic Imelda O’Shea Coughlan said: “If they are using heroin, the chances are that there are to be needles lying around so even to kneel down to help them and that you need to be so careful.”

“To us they’d probably be one of the more dangerous calls and you’d be very likely to get a needle stick injury if you weren’t careful.”

The six part series ‘Paramedics’ was produced by Tile Films with the help of the HSE National Ambulance Service.

The next episode will air this Thursday May on TV at 9pm.

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