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Content Creation Agency

Ambulance Service – Every Second Counts


With emotive video content at its core, our behaviour change campaign was successful in reducing non-emergency calls to 999 by 40%.

Each year, North West Ambulance Service faces increased pressures over the winter period. This provokes the need to inform and support the public in how to use its services wisely.

Our objective was to create a memorable and impactful public campaign to show the effects of mis-using the 999 service.


Insight from emergency call handlers highlighted the volume of calls received where the patient needed to be directed to an alternative service, such as their GP or 111. Complaints ranged from needing a repeat prescription to a sprained ankle and other minor injuries. 

From this, our ‘Every Second Counts’ campaign concept was born. 

We shot in two locations, firstly in the call centre, showing handlers stuck dealing with non-emergency enquiries and the volume of potentially life-threatening calls waiting to be answered. Secondly, we shot a home scenario showing a man suffering a cardiac arrest and his desperate wife waiting on the line as the seconds ticked by.

Split screen footage starkly highlighted the devastation caused by non-emergency 999 calls and encouraged viewers to help NWAS save more lives by thinking before they dialled.

Smoking Gun oversaw the entire production process, drafting scripts, recruiting actors and directing the shoot on the day. The video was used across social media as part of a targeted ad campaign and sat front and centre on the NWAS homepage. 


Our campaign impacted a significant reduction to pressure on the 999 service over the critical winter period. This included a 40% reduction in non-emergency calls compared to the same period the previous year

Usage of 111 peaked in December while remaining high in January and February – a key call to action of our campaign content 

Across Instagram and Facebook, the video achieved over 70,000 views and 30,000 engagements, reaching 233,000 people

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