Attendees at EMS World Expo 2016 in New Orleans, LA, were able to take a break from exploring the exhibit halls and earning CE credits in the classroom to have Q&A sessions with the cast of A&E’s Nightwatch.
Nightwatch follows two ambulance crews as they respond to calls in New Orleans, and gives people a look into the careers of EMTs and paramedics.
The two sessions, held on Thursday Oct. 6 and Friday Oct. 7, helped give attendees a look into how the show is filmed and what type of an affect it has had on the cast members’ lives.
One recurring theme at both the sessions was the realness of the episodes. Multiple attendees stood to thank the crew for giving the public a real look into EMS and not exaggerating or making EMS seem like something it isn’t.
Dan Flynn, a Nighwatch cast member, says at first the producers thought it would be a little more dramatic.
“They thought it would be like in Pulp Fiction,” Flynn says, imitating plunging a needle into someone’s chest and having them sit straight up.
The producers realized that wasn’t the case and adjusted quickly, Flynn and the rest of the crew said. The producers realized the heart of the show was in the compassion that the Nightwatch crews showed their patients.
Although it took a bit for the crew to get accustomed to having cameras follow them around, it might have been more difficult for the camera crews to get accustomed to following them.
“Some of these guys were filming cooking shows last week,” says cast member Titus Tero. “Now they’re potentially watching people take their last breath. It’s a tough transition.”
Some of the camera crew left after the first few days of filming and moved onto other projects. The cast quickly realized that the ones that stuck around might need debriefing similar to a paramedic.
“We don’t realize the things we see sometimes are so traumatic,” says Holly Monteleone.
Sometimes during filming, a hard line needed to be set about when the crews could or could not film.
“If something was going to affect the patient’s care, the cameras got cut off,” Tero says. “Period.”
At first, this could be a point of contention, cast member Nick Manning says.
Manning described an incident when he told a camera person they needed to stop filming, and when he looked up again the camera was still rolling. Manning says the exchange got a bit heated, but there haven’t been problems since and the incident left no hard feelings.
In fact, the crew described their relationship with the producers and the camera crew as extremely close, showing pictures of them all spending time together outside of filming.
Of course there are parts of filming the show the cast aren’t fond of.
“The interview sessions are the worst, easily,” Manning says. “You have to sit there for hours with them asking you questions and shooting footage that you know they probably won’t even use.”
But the show has had a positive impact on the crew outside of the popularity.
Monteleone described to an attendee who asked about issues of harassment of women in the workplace that before the show, she didn’t realize how big of a problem it was. Now that she has an audience full of female EMS workers, she understands the breadth of the issue and says she wants to help address the issue.
Flynn says having cameras on him at all times helps him be more conscious of what he’s doing while he’s helping a patient.
“What the show did for me was force me to have a little more attention to detail,” Flynn says.
Flynn says he thinks the show has had a positive impact on EMS in general, especially in the New Orleans area.
“Since the show, paramedic enrollment in the New Orleans area has tripled,” Flynn says.
EMS World Expo is North America’s largest and most internationally attended EMS conference and trade show. The 2017 conference is scheduled for October 16–20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. EMS World Expo sets the standard in EMS education, offering the training EMS professionals need to do their jobs today, with the progressive curriculum and technology that provides the solutions for tomorrow. Visit EMSWorldExpo.com.