Emergency Room: Life and Death at VGH

January 16, 2014

Come for the blood, stay for the cast of tough, lovable characters-it's the conceit of pretty much every show on TV these days, including, strange though it may sound, this six-part documentary about Vancouver General Hospital's ER. Emergency Room: Life + Death at VGH enjoys unprecedented access to patients, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and security staff as it reveals the frenzied pace of care in the foyer of Canada's second-largest hospital.

Drunks and addicts roll through, of course, but illness and accident are the great leveler: at any moment, patients might include a construction worker who nail-gunned his knee, a heart-attack victim, and a car-struck pedestrian or cyclist-the parade of traffic victims is astonishing. (Second most common: knifings.) As the province's lead provider of trauma care, it's also the heli-pad for every hard case in B.C., like a young woman from Trail infected with a deadly strain of malaria.

Expect gore (every episode features broken bones, split skulls, and death) and foul language, and no matter how cynical, expect too to fall in love with the driven, selfless adrenaline junkies who return shift after shift to this impossible job.

Tuesdays, on Knowledge Network, 9pm starting Jan 21

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