Heartbreaking scenes on BBC One’s Ambulance as paramedics tend to suicidal man pining for missing dog
Hard-hitting BBC One documentary Ambulance showed paramedics tending to a man threatening to take his own life after his dog went missing.
An ambulance was sent out to help the man, known as David, following reports he had a carving knife.
The crew was asked if they wanted police assistance, but said they were ‘happy to proceed with caution’.
When paramedics reached David – who has a drinking problem – he was in tears.
Told the crew he had lost his Siberian husky Dray.
“If I can’t get my dog back I don’t want to live any longer,” he wept.
David asked for ‘just a little bit to drink’ before leaving the barge. As he drank from his bottle of cider, the paramedics placed a kitchen knife out of his view.
“It’s not nice. We’re both dog lovers. We’ve both got dogs. We need to get you in a better place,” said one of the paramedics.
“We need to get you in a place of safety and when you come out you’re in a better frame of mind then.”
The BBC One show, which tells the ‘story behind the sirens’ of the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), showed the crew taking David to A&E for a mental health assessment.
And it was explained that David was a frequent caller.
One call handler said: “He used to have it all, lost it. Used to be fairly highly-functioning member of society. All he’s got left now is his boat and his dog.”
David explained that he was a gear grinder working in engineering on destroyer ships for the Los Angeles navy and he also worked in Texas for seven years.
He used to earn ‘big money’ and used to be in ‘a hot tub every night’. But he had been an alcoholic since his teens.
“I mean basically I’ve been an alcoholic since I was 17,” he said.
“But fortunately I’ve managed to actually run a business, race motorbikes because basically I’m an extremely high-functioning alcoholic.”
When one of the crew encouraged ‘if you can crack this alcohol problem you’ll be able to get yourself back on the road’ he replied: “I don’t want to get back on the road. I can’t do it again.
“If I’ve lost me dog… he is everything. I’m sorry but he really is, when I say my life, I mean my life.”
Medical dispatchers later received another call about David from a worried passer-by.
With no mental health specialist to assess him on scene at his barge, paramedics Amy and Pragna – a different crew to the one who had tended to him earlier – had no option but to take him back to hospital.
They took him to Stepping Hill in Stockport and were stunned to learn he had absconded after setting off the fire alarm.
At the end of the programme it was explained that David is ‘still navigating the north west’s canal network’ and had been reunited with Dray.
Tonight’s episode also showed paramedics responding to a 14-month-old baby with 36 per cent burns after he pulled her hot drink over his face and down his front.
He spent three months in hospital being treated and was thankfully left unscarred.
Crews were also called to help a 24-year-old woman in Eccles afraid she had been bitten by snake while sunbathing in Thailand.
She suffered two very small puncture wounds on her heel with bruising and slight swelling and was sent to Trafford General walk-in centre for an ‘animal insect bite query’.
Samaritans (116 123) samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected] , write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.
CALM (0800 58 58 58) thecalmzone.net has a helpline is for men who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. They’re open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year.
Childline (0800 1111 ) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information depressionalliance.org
Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying studentsagainstdepression.org
The Sanctuary (0300 003 7029 ) helps people who are struggling to cope – experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks or in crisis. You can call them between 8pm and 6am every night.There are other depression charities.