Urgency, action and compassion: 5 questions for the producer of the content of Our paramedics

Emergency, action and compassion: 5 questions to the content producer of Our paramedics

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Since her beginnings in the heyday of MusiquePlus, Nadia Ruel has worked on the development and content of numerous variety shows, talk shows, magazines and documentaries. With On call 24/7, which is in its 8th season , and Police on duty, which will experience its 3eseason, two successful Télé-Québec series, she has made observational documentaries an often acclaimed and multi-awarded expertise. Our paramedics plunge us into the heart of the urgency of lifesavers constantly confronted with the unknown, pain and human distress. An infinitely human immersion where action meets compassion.

What interested you in the work of paramedics?

< p>By documenting emergency situations for several years, I had the chance to witness a small part of their work which is super important. Paramedics are the bearers of the patient’s story. They are the ones who transmit essential information to hospital staff. I had never seen the extent of their work in the field and all of their responsibilities. This immersion in their daily life and their reflections interested me. 

Nadia Ruel

These are not people who make TV. How do you find good protagonists?

Everyone has something to say. It's about finding those who want to share a very intimate part of their experience, their thoughts on their work, how they live it, how it transforms them as humans. It may not be the first series that documents paramedics, but in our case, it is the humans that we put forward and not the sensationalism of the situations. At the start of production, we meet with the paramedics, we talk to them, we answer their questions. Then we do an observation period. For me, this is an important step to see the interaction they have with the patients, to discover their personality. After all, it's teamwork. There are often too many good candidates. With the director (Charles Gervais), the researcher (Marie-Christine Huot) and my co-producer (Eva-Rose Mercier), we have to make choices. It was also important to properly illustrate the different specialties, both primary care and advanced care. 

You shoot situations where people are vulnerable. What is your line of ethics?

We borrow the look of the paramedic to fully understand the situation. It's a line you never cross. Our teams are used to working in this kind of context. We are empathetic witnesses because patients give us privileged access to their intimacy. But our camera is filming the paramedics. Afterwards, voluntary choices are made during editing. We don't want to shock anyone. It is not always necessary to see everything to capture the emotion and understand how things are lived. In fact, a patient who recognized his story in an excerpt broadcast recently wrote to Urgences-santé to thank the paramedics while saying he was very much looking forward to seeing the show.

Members of the team must witness situations that can be troubling. How are they prepared?

You actually find yourself on the ground in uncontrolled environments and you never know what to expect. We had meetings with the people from Urgences-santé. They listed us types of situations by being honest and transparent. We do a debrief at the end of each shoot. We always remain vigilant in the face of post-traumatic shocks, and the door is always open to talk.

What will we discover about the work of the paramedics in the series?

People will be surprised at the workload. The days are long. They get a lot of calls. We will also see that there is often a different story between what people tell dispatchers and the handling. Paramedics must be mentally and physically ready to deal with any situation. We will also understand that there are many lonely people who are vulnerable and whose only solution is to call 911. Paramedics have to deal with a lot of social interventions. One of the episodes will be devoted to post-traumatic shocks. We're going to talk to a paramedic who's off work. Images of a past intervention come back to him. It's not uncommon. He was generous enough to break the taboo around it. It is a series anchored in the human and it happens that the emotional charge accumulates. It is also a very luminous series.

Our paramedics, Thursday 8:30 p.m. at MOI & CIE.