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Knowledge Network Launches Season 2 of Emergency Room: Life + Death at VGH

Two years after the launch of the successful first season, Knowledge Network viewers are in for six new episodes following the lives of staff and patients at BC's largest hospital.

Season 2 premieres on Tuesday, April 12 at 9 p.m. PT. Episodes will be simulcast on the series’ interactive companion website at, which will also feature 49 web shorts and interactive surveys about critical health topics.

Filmed at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH)’s emergency department, Emergency Room: Life + Death at VGH gives viewers a look into one of British Columbia’s busiest emergency departments and the only accredited Level 1 Trauma Centre in the province.

Season 1 broke viewership records with more than 1.2 million TV and online viewers. It was also critically acclaimed as Best Television Show and Best Documentary at the 2014 Leo Awards and earned two Canadian Screen Award nominations.

To create the new season, Knowledge Network again partnered with Vancouver Coastal Health and BC-based Lark Productions for almost 80 days of shooting, with unrestricted access to all areas of the VGH emergency department.

"In season 2, we were once again privileged to be granted a front row seat into emergency medicine at VGH," says Lark Productions President, Louise Clark. "The relationships forged in Season 1 with the department and staff meant we could take what we learned and dive deeper into their world, exploring new areas including mental illness, elder care and palliative care."

Sheona McDonald (LIFERS: Stories from Prison, Inside her Sex) was brought on to direct Season 2.

"Creatively, in terms of shooting style and concept, I was following what already worked well in Season 1," says McDonald, whose crew shot handheld and on the fly, with two cameras.

McDonald says she focused on ‘deepening the conversation’.

"Season 1 did a remarkable job at starting the conversation, investing in the people and the place and the stories, so my hope was to get more entrenched, to bring new things to the table," she says. "I wanted to dig into subjects like death, end of life care, the elderly and mental health, and there was lots of support to do so."

McDonald adds she was impressed with the microcosm that is the ER, which she calls a 'place of human interaction and compassion'.

"It doesn’t matter who you are or where you arrive from or what you have, people are at the ready to help you and they work together to do so. Ego and hierarchy seemed to take a back seat to compassion, pride, communication and collaboration," she says.

"Personally, I may have been surprised that the blood, guts and gore didn’t trouble me; that conversations about death or end of life, or even witnessing death, was more interesting than disturbing (in most cases). I found it intriguing and I was grateful for the experience."

Kevin Eastwood, the director of Season 1, who was busy producing Chris Haddock's The Romeo Section in 2015, is currently finalizing a two-episode special to be broadcast in the winter of 2017.

By Katja De Bock
Photos courtesy of the Knowledge Network

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