999: What’s Your Emergency? w/t – 2012 is the 75th anniversary of the 999 system in the UK, and it’s a system creaking under the weight of the British public’s emergencies. Since 2000 the ambulance service has seen an increase of over 70% in 999 calls. In 2010/11 alone the police saw a year-on-year increase of over 10% in 999s.
This a unique collaboration – filmed over an intensive 10 week period with all the emergency services in Blackpool – police , fire and ambulance. But this is unlike any other emergency based series. These films capture the entire process from the moment a call is taken at control to the deployment of the services on the ground. And in Blackpool the system is straining – with 20% budget cuts to the police, Lancashire is dealing with over 43,000 emergency calls a week across the services. In the last year in the region over half a million people have called 999.
With rig technology inside the emergency vehicles to multiple crews on the ground 24/7, 999: What’s Your Emergency? captures in a unique way the issues that face Britain today – from the emergence of new drugs, the despair of domestic violence, the way we parent our children and those, from whatever background, who slip through society’s safety net.
With unique access to the services and the control centres that deploy them, this is the job seen through the eyes of those at the emergency front line. Raw and un-mediated, compassionate, yet tough minded. This is Britain in extremis.
The debates about how we live in 2012 and what Britain has really become are brought to the fore through the experiences of the ordinary men and women of the 999 services who find themselves cleaning up society’s mess. As the stories unfold in this unique project it emerges how much we expect our 999 workers to be both rescuers and, more importantly, social workers. With cuts and streamlining of care services on the agenda, these are the people now often effectively charged with sorting our social problems on the ground, day in day out. Now, for this first time this series shows the reality of picking up the pieces a broken Britain.
Strong humane characters, and riveting storytelling combines with a sophisticated analysis of contemporary problems – it is both shocking and provocative but often funny, even bizarre. And Blackpool is the perfect location – a large town with its fair share of problems: crime, drugs, drink and violence…as well as a reputation as ‘Vegas of the North’.
What the emergency services have to deal with is always unpredictable, often exasperating and sometimes deeply disturbing. And whether they have to deal with the reckless or the unlucky, they get to see Britain at its most raw, it’s most vulnerable, it’s most shocking and its most heart rending.
Channel: Channel 4
Producer: Blast! Films
Source: Channel 4 press release