Meeting patients of London's Air Ambulance
ANOUSZKA WRITES: It’s a Tuesday morning and I’m shoving another grape in my mouth to try to stifle any sobbing. You, the listener, are here to hear tales of overcoming traumatic injury, not the sound of a producer’s tears. Exchange ‘grape’ for cookie / strawberry / sausage roll and you’ll begin to get a good idea of the time and emotion that were poured into the six months I spent recording Picking Up The Pieces, a new podcast from London’s Air Ambulance charity.
Last summer the charity – which has to raise at least £10m each year – approached us in the hope that together we could create a podcast series that would both raise awareness about the work they do, as well as provide solace, advice, and hope for new patients and their families.
Although each story told on the podcast would begin with the heart-stopping drama of a helicopter landing on the roadside, the bulk of each episode would allow the calm space for patients and families to slowly reflect on how their lives have changed since their accidents.
Before we met the first of our courageous patients, we had to find our podcast host. It was vital that listeners felt they’d stumbled upon a warm, heartfelt conversation between loved ones rather than a formal interview. With her combination of experience working with charities and her instantly welcoming demeanour, it was clear that Myleene Klass was the perfect choice.
We recorded the episodes at the patients’ homes. For many of them this would be the first time they’d been made to actively reflect on their new lives, so their comfort needed to come first. With that in mind, the most important thing I had to give our guests was time. I needed them to forget I was there to surround them with alien mics and faders and wires.
This was where the glorious food spreads came in. In order for them to open up they had to feel at ease with Myleene, so we always spent a good hour or so nattering about everything but their accident over coffee and cake first. By the time I hit record, they’d forgotten the day was anything but a chance to chat with a friend.
Editing each episode was a lengthy process. The beauty of human storytelling is its unpredictability. It’s not linear; the brain likes to constantly dart in different directions, elaborating on certain anecdotes and coming back to others later. So my biggest challenge in the edit was chopping, changing, and switching segments to craft a narrative that would make sense chronologically, whilst still being faithful to how each patient remembered their own experiences.
Picking Up The Pieces is available now on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher… basically wherever you get your podcasts.