000 Ambulance

Most people have never called 000 for an ambulance. It's difficult to imagine the terror and panic of finding your best friend not breathing and not conscious or your partner having a cardiac arrest. It can be the most crucial time in someone's life and for a short period you are alone and in charge of the situation with nothing to help you but a voice on the end of a telephone.

000 AMBULANCE is an intense and confronting program that takes us down the wires and across the airwaves of the Emergency Services Communications network. As we hear 000 call takers trying to calm callers and resuscitate patients over the phone, dispatchers on the other side of the room have already located the nearest ambulance and communicated the job over the radio. Callers are often still on the phone to 000 by the time the paramedics arrive.

The 000 call taker, Les Dougan, guides us through the communications network and explores its unique perspective on the city of Melbourne and the ceaseless chaos of life.

Duration: 24:01


Les Dougan and other staff of the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority and the Melbourne Ambulance Service.


Produced, recorded, edited and mixed by Kyla Brettle. Executive Producer Tony MacGregor, Radio Eye, ABC Radio National.

Music used in the program is derived from Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa, Fratres and George Winston's December.

© ABC Radio National and Kyla Brettle 2005

A warm thank you to ESTA, MAS, Sandra McLaren, Michael Kiernan, Craig Fetchner, Brent Clough, Michelle Matthews and John Diver

First broadcast in Australia in ABC Radio National's Radio Eye February 4, 2006

Subsequent broadcasts:

  • Re:Sound, Chicago Public Radio September 16, 2006
  • 000 Ambulance was showcased on A World in Your Ear, BBC Radio 4 April 14, 2007
  • Re:Sound, Chicago Public Radio September 9, 2007

Photography by Kyla Brettle


Listen to 000 Ambulance here.