Emergency NYC is a medical documentary on Netflix, executive producer and directed by Ruthie Shatz and Adi Barash. The show follows hospital staff, EMTs, hospital transport helicopter pilots, and many more within the bustling city of New York City, showing life-and-death situations and the manic nature of the metropolis.
Emergency NYC has a structure that is easy to get hooked on. The 8-episode series features two to three scenarios in each chapter. The story usually follows these medical emergencies from their entry to the hospital through the conclusion of their surgery or treatment. The show’s episodic nature makes it very digestible, as you can come back to it over time. There is a lot happening in each episode, but the pacing is quite slow, making it a hard show to binge-watch. However, efforts are made to try and increase tension and pacing, such as frantic journeys to the hospital whilst patients hang in the balance. I personally didn’t feel any more sense of urgency. But this is a very grounded and genuine documentary, not wanting to sugarcoat or dilute the reality of the situation. Everything is real. The advanced medical exploration is fascinating, and every story and tale is interesting. Each is unique.
The tone of the series is serious but generally hopeful. It’s not a dark, horrifying look at medicine and healthcare, focusing more on family, love, and moments where things go right. That also makes it nice to watch; it’s got a heart and soul to it that isn’t darkened. But that does not mean the show shies away from raising questions and highlighting conversations. Elements such as gun violence, immigration and other topics are always important, and those involved discuss these issues with nothing but outright facts.
There are personalities in Emergency NYC, and what a city to find them in. Just from the first episode, the constant voices of New York are instantly intriguing and endearing, especially from an outsider. I do not think the filmmakers ever took advantage of the patients, framing most of them through a nonjudgemental, caring lens. Many of the individual cases are wrapped up in one episode, but not all of them. The more extreme or gravitating are given updates and small pieces of closure. And it isn’t just the patients. The series follows a set group of medical staff in various roles, from surgeons to those entrusted with bringing patients into the hospitals. They have stories of their own, and I found myself invested in all of them.
The filmmaking side of the documentary is also very interesting. The character of the city itself is as much in the spotlight as the people. The show very rarely uses music, allowing ambient sounds instead. This grounds the series even further. Especially outside, on the streets, it feels like the noise of the city is flourishing. But at times there’s an eerie quiet, and it makes that sluggish pace feel even slower. The cinematography has some moments of real beauty to them. There are scenes where a drone follows the ambulance through the city, and the vehicle is made to look tiny compared to the size of the city. Playing with scale in this way makes New York look vast and imposing, filled with people and medical problems. And at night, there is particular beauty with the red and blue flashing lights looking gorgeous in the darkness.
Emergency NYC is a series that celebrates regular people. It does this by showing that no one is irregular or boring. It’s a show filled with wonderful and sometimes heartbreaking characters and personalities, showing the lifeblood of what keeps a city like New York alive. For those that love learning about cities and cultures, this is excellent. I felt like I was discovering a lot about the city from an intimate place. For those that love real medical shows, this is fantastic. It doesn’t encourage or relish gore but won’t shy away from it. What I love the most about the documentary is just how honest and real it is. Even attempts to sensationalize fall flat because it struggles to even try and glamourize events due to how down to Earth it is everywhere else.
Emergency NYC is available now exclusively on Netflix.
Emergency NYC is a series that celebrates regular people. It does this by showing that no one is irregular or boring. It’s a show filled with wonderful and sometimes heartbreaking characters and personalities, showing the lifeblood of what keeps a city like New York alive.
William is a screenwriter with a love of comics and movies. Once referred to Wuthering Heights as “the one with the Rabbits.”