Press Centre

Trauma: Level 1

  • Episode: 

    1 of 2

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 03 Sep 2013
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 36 2013 : Sat 31 Aug - Fri 06 Sep
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing - in the public domain - until Tuesday 27 August  2013.
“I play around with my kids as soon as I get home, and kiss them when I get back and just say how much I love them - because you realise your life can change in an instant.” - Andy Eynon, director of major trauma, Southampton General Hospital
This new two-part documentary for ITV follows the work of staff at Southampton’s major trauma centre as they receive and treat patients with serious and life-threatening injuries.
Produced by October Films, Trauma: Level 1 offers a rare insight into how the unit works with access to initial rescues by air ambulance, dramatic scenes in the operating theatre and candid interviews with the doctors on the frontline of trauma medicine as they go about their work.
From treating the victims of road crashes to paragliders who have come crashing to earth, this programme shows how staff in the centre prepare for a patient, operate on them - sometimes in urgent life-saving circumstances - and help them on their way to recovery. It also focuses on the emotional impact on the victims and their loved ones when faced with trauma.
Dr Iain Beardsell, a consultant in emergency medicine, explains the trauma centre at Southampton General Hospital is one of 12 such units throughout the country, and is totally focused on caring for the patients it receives.
“It’s not acceptable any more for the sickest to be looked after by what we called ‘the thickest’, which is what emergency medicine was when I was training. We have to supply a standard of care that is second to none, and the standard of care we supply to our trauma patients here I think is comparable to anywhere in the world.”
Featured in the first episode are:
Andrew Davies, a 25-year-old who was thrown head-first from a minibus when it rolled over on the motorway. He has multiple injuries, but most concerning are his spinal injuries, as he is unable to feel or move his legs. Doctors fear his injuries will be life-changing.
Michael McCallum, a 14-year-old who is rushed into resuscitation with serious head and chest injuries following a road accident on his paper round. After showing positive signs, Michael suddenly goes into cardiac arrest and doctors have to open him up to try to save his life.
Simon Parsons, who is airlifted to the trauma centre after his motorcycle hit central reservation barriers at speed. His right leg sustains one of the most severe muscle damage injuries the orthopaedic teams have seen and surgeons have to make the decision whether to save it.
Andrew’s mother Karen Knighton explains how she heard the news of the motorway crash: “The doorbell went and that knock on the door changed it all completely. Changed it for me but more so for Andrew. You don’t know what’s around the corner.”
Director of major trauma Dr Andy Eynon tells Andrew he’s not going to pull any punches when he takes him for a scan which might reveal he is never going to walk again. He says one of the most difficult parts of his job is talking patients and their families through the repercussions of major trauma: “You really do not ever want to meet me in a professional situation because almost by definition it is the worst of times.” 
Meanwhile,  Andrew speaks philosophically about his injuries even though he is about to be put into an induced coma: “If my left hand side of my body had not taken the blow and my head had then I’m sure I would be lying in the morgue now with a toe tag. I’m very sure of that.” 
When Michael is brought into the trauma centre, the team jumps to work. Soon, his chest injuries seem to be improving. But when the team tries to wake him up, it’s clear that Michael is very unwell, and goes into cardiac arrest. Nurses call for consultant paediatric intensivist Dr Vanessa Stanley, who later reflects that she had minutes at the most to save him: “That’s a very difficult situation when you have to go up to people you have never met before and tell them that their child may well die in the next half hour.”
Thoracic surgeon Khalid Amer, who leads the operation with Vanessa, explains his approach: “I do have three kids and I always imagine that this is my kid, and that I am trying to resuscitate my kid.”
Michael then faces surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, which is risky in itself. In the waiting room, his dad Alan says: “I find it so hard to carry on as normal knowing full well that when that door opens it will either bring wonderful news or awful news.”
When Simon is brought into the centre his howls of pain mean the doctors sedate him as quickly as possible. While he is asleep, they have to remove much of the flesh of his leg due to contamination from road dirt. Consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon David Higgs explains just how bad his wounds are: “Simon’s injury was the most extensive soft tissue injury I’ve seen affecting the thigh. It was just short of a traumatic amputation. If he had been picked up a little while later by an ambulance he could have died from his injuries.”
His wife Lorraine explains she had a bad feeling when she heard sirens in the area: “Simon was off that day and I knew he was going on his bike. It was such  a lovely day, and where I work I could hear the helicopters and sirens and everything. I can remember saying to my mate, ‘Oh that’s not a good sign, is it? Somebody’s going to have some bad news.’”