It appears that at leastÂ in some EMS circles, the premiere of the new A&E series called ‘Nightwatch’ on Thursday (1/22) was a highly anticipated event. I don’t know if it was just aÂ coincidence that it was also the opening day of theÂ NAEMSP conferenceÂ held this year in New Orleans, where the EMS-themed reality show was filmed, but I am sure that viewing the first episode at Manning’s restaurant with the NOLA EMS crew must have been quite a party. For me, it was a quiet night of watching the show along withÂ the simultaneous #Nightwatch Twitter stream for live commentary from my fellow medics.
Overall, everyone seemed to be very impressed and pleased with the portrayal of EMTs and Paramedics (with some almost “cameo-like appearances” by NOLA firefighters and police.) I felt theÂ realismÂ was refreshing especially when compared to the stylized public safety shows like the drama of Chicago Fire or the satire of Sirens, in fact, it was much closer toÂ the seminal classic ofÂ Emergency!Â than I would have expected.Â The incidents were definitely real, clearly they were “cherry-picked” to find interesting moments, but absolutely no doubt that we were witnessing actual history in that town. There were the edited interview commentaries interspersed with the action reminiscent of The OfficeÂ cast “breaking the fourth wall.” However, there were also a few things missing. Not a single hairy, sweaty chest that needed a 12-lead; no non-emergency transports; no lift assistance; and only a single call for EtOH. It is rare in my rural EMS experience to see a GSW, let alone multiple shots and even multiple victims over the single shift, but we are talking about the “Big Easy” here, not my hometown.
While I was pleased with the general realism as a accurate portrayal of our profession to the public, I did notice the almost non-stop use of lights and sirens. While Code 3 responses make the best television, it also feeds the impression that we are all adrenaline junkies that like to drive fast andÂ â€œWe do everything an emergency room can do,â€ as Holly the paramedic tells the camera, â€œbut we do it at 70 miles an hour riding through the streets of New Orleans.â€ Hardly the stuff of “community paramedicine.”
I look forward to future episodes, perhaps they will find a creative and exciting way to communicate the value of SSM posting. I’ll be watching for it!