B.C. ad campaign highlights importance of paramedics

Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. launches "Imagine A World Without Paramedics" effort

Michelle DiPardo March 16, 2015

Paramedics do a lot more than drive ambulances and blast sirens- they’re highly skilled medical professionals who often make the difference between life and death.

That’s the message behind “Imagine A World Without Paramedics” a new awareness campaign from the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. (APBC) the union that represents the province’s 4,000 paramedics and emergency dispatchers.

Developed by Vancouver-based shop Immersion Creative, the campaign includes radio, OOH, social, print and digital and a PSA called “911 Is For Emergencies.”

The effort is anchored by three 30-second TV spots, titled “Heart Attack” “Seizure” and “Fall off Roof” which are currently running across B.C. on Sportsnet, CTV and Global. Each ad shows a person in the midst of a medical emergency, while two very different scenarios play out on a split screen.

In “Heart Attack” an elderly man experiences chest pains while at home with his wife. In one scenario, 911 is called, paramedics arrive, and the man is revived and safely transported to hospital. The second scenario shows the man’s panicking wife grab her keys, load him into the car, and race to the hospital on her own.

According to Bronwyn Barter, a paramedic and president of APBC, the idea for the campaign came from APBC members, who were looking for a way to mark the organizations 40th anniversary this year, while at the same time, both clarifying and promoting their profession.

“People really don’t know who we are and what we do,” Barter said. “The most exciting part of our job is actually when we’re in the back of an ambulance with a patient, with all the different skills and interventions and drugs…we’re actually saving a life back there. We wanted people to know that not only can we make a difference between life and death, we can make a difference in patient outcome, as well as how long you’re going to stay in the healthcare system.”

Barter added that while the organization has done “some low-level campaigns” in the past, “Imagine a World Without Paramedics” is its largest push to date. So far, the campaign has garnered positive feedback both nationally and internationally and its dedicated website, WorldWithoutParamedics.ca has received more than 45,000 views.

Barter said the heavy-hitting ads would likely provoke a strong emotion in viewers, but when compared to what a paramedic actually deals with day in and day out, the spots are pretty tame.

“Our view is that it’s actually very mild compared to the reality of what we see 24/7,” she said. “We didn’t want to cross the line too much…we had to find a balance there, because the things we see are not normal and we don’t expect to put that onto the public.”

“Imagine a World Without Paramedics” launched March 2 and runs for eight weeks. In addition to creative, Immersion Creative is also managing PR and media.