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photo Emergency! A Critical Situation
By Tahini Rached
National Film Board of Canada


Overcrowding, budget cuts, massive layoffs and early retirement. After years of cutbacks and restructuring, how is the healthcare system holding up? To find out, the filmmakers take us inside the emergency room for a look at the working lives of the women and men who deal with the fallout of this explosive situation every single day: the nurses and other hospital workers.

Day after day, night after night, tension mounts as staff try to determine which of the never-ending flow of patients to see first, knowing that mistakes can prove fatal. As waiting times stretch to six hours and beyond, they have to try to calm frightened and angry patients, while keeping tight rein on their own frustrations. And in the back room an orderly squirrels away a secret supply of patient snacks, knowing that the supply will run out before week's end.

Though filmed in suburban Montreal, every line and image of this humorous, engaging, but ultimately disturbing video will resonate with viewers in the United States as well. Whether it's the Canadian National Health Service or U.S. managed care, when the bottom line rules, the quality of healthcare is at risk, not to mention the quality of life of those who deliver it.

While they are bitter about being forced to work under intolerable conditions, none of these nurses would give up their profession. They are passionate about saving lives, and trying their best to bring some dignity to the chaos of the Emergency Room. How long can we afford to go on wasting their energy and commitment?

52 minutes
© 1999
Purchase $99 DVD
Order No. QA-307
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-918-5

"Viewers gain first hand awareness of the many stressors of working in an overcrowded, understaffed emergency room." MC Journal

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Web Resources

To rent or purchase this film, please visit the Icarus Films website