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Nat Geo explores the 'Emergency Room'
By Disha Shah
13 August 2013 6:40 pm | Team

MUMBAI: From miraculous recoveries to heart-wrenching moments, one has seen what goes on in a hospital and operation theater (OT) through various popular shows like Grey's Anatomy and ER.

Taking it a step ahead, National Geographic channel will bring forth the reality without all the drama to people's television screens with a series called Emergency Room.

National Geographic channel is known to showcase content that is thought provoking and educate audiences at the same time asserts Debarpita Banerjee

It is a reality show which will take the viewers behind the closed doors of an emergency room, with unprecedented access to the hospital and doctors, patients and their families. The series has been shot inside the Emergency Room of Medanta hospital in Delhi and will showcase real life stories of doctors and hospital staff racing against time, facing high pressure situations and intimidating life and death circumstances.

It is produced by Vedartha Entertainment and will air at 10 p.m. every Monday and Tuesday.

Through the show, the channel is targeting 15+ Sec A living in the metros. The tune-in day and time were derived from a programming perspective, given the format and nature of the show, its content and the preferences of its target audience.

How it all started…

National Geographic channel is known to showcase content that is thought provoking and educate audiences at the same time. And staying true to its ideology, National Geographic and Fox International Channels, vice president, marketing Debarpita Banerjee explains the concept behind it, "At National Geographic we always push to break new ground in programming and the idea was developed within the company. The reason we chose this idea is because the Emergency Room is one of the most challenging environments to be in - whether you're a doctor, a patient or a patient's family member."

"Life and death are decided in a matter of moments. People have never seen this unless personally exposed to it. Larger audiences don't know what a hospital environment is really like 24x7. Either they are not aware or they have a different impression than the reality. We wanted to bring this unseen world to our viewers." she adds.

The channel approached Medanta with the show concept and given the hospital's expertise in this field, the channel decided to partner with it.

"Medanta shared a similar outlook towards emergencies and emergency preparedness and hence decided to partner with us for this particular series. Once the programming details were closed and agreed upon, we went about setting up the cameras, etc." says Banerjee.

The team of ER comprises of around 100 professionals. There are seven to eight online directors, 20 producers/assistant directors, more than 50 people in the technical crew and more than 12 loggers. The entire crew was flown down from Mumbai and it took more than a week to set up the cameras, mikes and other technical equipments.
The channel has used almost every available type of camera starting from wall mounted PTZs (Pan Tilt Zooms) to Sony PMW 200s to Gopro cameras.

How the ER team works?

The channel wanted to give a fly-on-the-wall feel and did not want to interfere with the cases, so it placed a total of 26 cameras in the emergency room to capture different angels.

Moreover, a PCR room was setup in Medanta from where these cameras were remotely controlled. In addition to this, four floating camera units were available on a standby. For more dynamic looking shots, four gopro camera units are also available to shoot as many as 10 cases in a day.

Due permissions were taken by the makers, of the family members and patients before and during the shoot

When asked about the difficulty level while shooting, Banerjee reasons: "Many. It was new ground for all of us. One of the biggest difficulties was that we didn't know what we were going to get. This is as real as it gets. As it is rightly said, no actors, no retakes. So you don't know what you will finally get on tape."

It is a very challenging subject for the channel as it involves real emergencies, real loss and life changing moments!

"Even in real life people don't go into the emergency room except for those few times when life demands it and something occurs. Here the team was in that environment 24x7 for over a month. It's a very emotional subject for the filming team too, to see life unfold like this before their eyes." says Banerjee.

Another question that comes to our mind is that were the doctors okay with the concept of the show? The creative control of the series lies with NatGeo but at the same time the treatment and diagnosis is something that doctors are experts at reveals Banerjee. So the channel follows the doctors as they manage their cases.

What about the precaution level while shooting? "We were careful not to interfere with the hospital functioning and ensured that doctors and other staff could go about treating the patients' uninterrupted." states Banerjee.

Family members and patients were approached before and during the shoot and due permissions were obtained.

It is a very challenging subject for the channel as it involves real emergencies, real loss and life changing moments says Debarpita Banerjee

The production planning was done very much in advance by the channel. It had also planned what kind of stories it will be looking at, but was more fluid than a firmed up plan. "Its an emergency room we were shooting in and plans got modified as per the on ground cases and as they were managed." says Banerjee.

Marketing activities

The channel has not left any stone unturned promoting the show on a large scale. "Since this is more than just a show and equals to an awareness drive, our marketing strategy has been to associate ER with the larger cause of making people aware of the dos and don'ts of emergency", asserts Banerjee.

The channel used social media in a very interactive and informative way through the emergency ready page. For the show, apart from TV, heavy online and radio promotions have been carried out.

At the back of the show, the channel has also launched a campaign- Be Emergency Ready! As part of this campaign NGC and Medanta hospital have reached out to the audiences to educate them about being emergency sensitive. Spread across on air, on ground and online platforms, the campaign has received a great response. Award winning actor Irrfan Khan is the face of the campaign.

The channel has launched Be Emergency Ready! campaign in order to reach out to the audiences and educate them about being emergency sensitive

The campaign on Facebook,, engaged with tech savvy online audiences and encouraged people to share their inspirational stories relating to emergency situations. The campaign was supported by the Delhi Traffic Police.

Elaborating on the launch of the campaign, Banerjee says, "For the first time in India, cameras have gone inside a multi-specialty emergency room. While Medanta allows NGC to show what all goes into saving lives once inside the ER, almost every expert agrees that a lot needs to be done to sensitise people before a case enters the ER. Half the battle is won if people know how to deal with heart attacks, road accident victims, burns and trauma cases. This campaign is an effort to shake apathy, spread awareness and equip people with the know-how when it comes to medical emergencies."

Mendanta, chairman and manager director Dr Naresh Trehan added, "Be Emergency Ready! is an effort to allay the deep fear in people's mind for those who are confronted with serious injuries. The main aim is to showcase that lending help at appropriate emergency call can reverse the tragedy. Our vision is to communicate the need for a dedicated & efficient team in order to deliver care of the highest quality to the victim."

From the anticipation and anxiety in the Emergency Room, to the humor and sadness in the recovery room - the series will aim to look beyond a hospital's flashing blue lights and presents the real picture of life in the medical world.

The show is shot on SD format and will be available in languages like Hindi, English, Bangla, Telugu and Tamil.

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