I don’t often do reviews, mainly because I don’t read them and am therefore uncertain about the format.  But this was too good an opportunity to miss.  Also I may have sold any reputation I have down the river and have agreed to do a bit of PR for the company promoting it – no money has changed hands.

Saved’ – Sunday at 9pm on the Hallmark channel.

Although this will perhaps be old news for any readers from the Americas, there is a new ‘Paramedic Drama’ TV show called ‘Saved’.  It’s on the Hallmark channel in the UK and last night I saw the pilot for it.  I made a few notes…

Like all TV medical dramas it was full of the interesting (but rare) jobs that we go to – I believe that somewhere out in TV writer-land there is a list of things that *must* happen in a medical drama. 

You must have,

  • A fat guy having a heart attack.
  • A cardiac arrest (which is saved).
  • A case of child abuse.
  • A baby being delivered.
  • A car crash.
  • A dead child.
  • A mad homeless person, and…
  • A newbie.

‘Saved’ ticked all of those particular boxes, but didn’t feel cheap for it.  In an hour long show (especially a pilot) you need to make things as interesting as possible.  The plot is fairly typical, the ‘hero’ has personal and family problems with a complicated love life, another is separated from his wife and child.  Once more drama needs these tropes to make you feel for the characters.  No-one in a drama has a happy marriage, just like no-one in Eastenders has a life free of pain.

But before you think I am being harsh, I’d like to let you know that I really enjoyed it.

I understand that there are differences in the way that American ambulance staff differ from us in the UK, but there were some universal truths that I can’t ever remember seeing in a TV drama before.  For example, on their way to hospital after dealing with a trauma the attendant was chatting quite happily while doing a medical procedure – now, realistically the driver would have pulled over, but it was the dialogue that I quite liked, they were both calm (no ‘If I don’t make this he’s gonna die’ histrionics) the driver was congratulating his mate on not getting them beaten up moments earlier.

The dialogue was similar to the way we talk in real life (although not always in front of the patient), the way of talking that may seem cruel and uncaring, but it is that level of disconnection which gets us through the shift.

There was the same superstition about uttering the ‘Q word’ in relation to a shift, I imagine that their medical consultant threw that idea into the writing pot.  It’s funny that they have the same belief in America.  We also shudder if someone says that the shift will be ‘quiet’ – it’s a terrible curse.

At one point the ambulance was stolen – the reaction was pretty much what ours would be, a moment of ‘oh sh*t!’ followed by laughter as the police followed it down the road.

The attitude to the patients was also similar to a lot of what happens on the road, telling the heart attack that he wasn’t going to die, and that he was safe now is the sort of thing that we all say in order to relax our patients.  I’m also glad that I’m not the only one who mentions to patients that he doesn’t like doctors either…

It’s also nice to see someone who wears gloves less than I do – I’m not a big fan of wearing them, but, unlike the protagonist, I do wear them if I’m delivering a baby as it gets bloody mucky.

I liked the reaction to being told that a patient of theirs had died – a little sad, but not broken up about it – and then back on the road for the next call.

Can I just say though, sex in the back of an ambulance?  Ewww.  Reember, we know the sorts of people who we regularly pick up…

Finally, I can’t tell you how much I love the photo montages of the patient’s backgrounds that are shown as our heroes arrive on scene – they condense a lot of information into a short space of time and avoid the ‘Casualty’ trap where half the programme is set-up for the emergency.

(As an example, I saw Casualty this week, the first part of the programme showed a woman with two children next to a canal – I was guessing that one of them would drown.  I was wrong, one child smothered the other, but it had distracted me.  The ‘Saved’ approach is much better at compressing a patient history into a few seconds).

So I’ve got to say that I enjoyed the pilot and I’ll be watching again next week to see if they can keep the same standard of realistic bits mixed with the trauma cases we get once in a blue moon.

Oh yes, the American site for the programme has two blogs!

12 thoughts on “Saved”

  1. Oh, you've got to be kidding! I watched “Saved” when it premiered in the US, and was so infuriated that I wrote a long email to the network, TNT. The T-shirt in place of a uniform, the medical inaccuracies (too numerous to list–let's begin with using defibrillator paddles, which haven't been used for years in the US, to shock a patient in a nonshockable rhthym), the sex in the back of the ambulance…give me a break! (Though I must confess, it aired here so long ago that I've forgotten all the mistakes/misreprsentations. Suffice to say that there were many.)All paramedics are not pristine. Some are slobs, some bend the rules, and care is not always what it should be. We have crude senses of humor. But 35 years after paramedics made their first appearance in the US, 95% of all Americans still don't have the slightest idea what we are capable of doing. We yearn for professional recognition, such as nurses enjoy, and this series will set the clock back by decades.

    I'm glad you liked it. Just my opinion, but I thought the dialogue was cheesy. I'll not watch it again.

  2. Having watched the whole series, I can agree with most of your comments. It's the most on the mark medical drama that I have seen, they use a lot of correct terminology and procedures, and while there is some artistic license it remains fairly close to reality.. It's nice to see an EMS based series instead of the many cop based shows out there.If anyone can't wait and wants to know how it ends, let me know and I can fill you in. I only hope they bring it back next season….

  3. I have to admit, I went off Casualty a lot when it turned into yet another relationship-soap, and so I may be out of date. However, even when I was a kid I could guarantee that there would be;a) someone dying, and

    b) someone puking.

    On (at least) one episode, they didn't meet both of these criteria and it just wasn't right!

    I haven't watched it for years, I admit (I'm more of an E.R. person, for all it's flaws in reality) and I made the mistake of watching a couple of recent Holby City episodes. Let's just say I was swearing at the TV for its sheer lack of medical content, and what was present being simplistic or plain wrong.

    I'll have to keep my eye open on bittorrent Hallmark for Saved.

  4. Call me dense if u will, but what Q word?(Iv been on nights the last few days so I could just be not making sense of what's been said?)

  5. Heard today, from an anesthesiologist.What are the ABCs of anesthesia? (You might think Airway, Breathing, Circulation.)”Airway, Bagel, Coffee.” J Weinstein, MD.

  6. I stopped watching Casualty a few years back even before it turned into a soap. It had become so predictable. Like Tom says the lead-in was so predictable as you worked out what accident was going occur.Much prefer the reality style shows now. Having worked in the acute care sector for many years (as a supplier) and having a brother who runs a big A&E dept I have enough insight for writers errors to bug me. The weakness of many of the meddramas is their belief that medical staff hyperventilate through acute episodes. I'm rather pleased to report that ime they don't and that's how I'd like them. I can remember the first time I watched someone having their heart valves done – it was so calm and lacking drama – even had a CD player on in the background. The latter had obviously been passed by infection control

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