Paramedics put skills to work on Georgia’s film, TV production

A crew member working on a local production wrecked his bike, and was lying unconscious on the pavement. To those who saw the accident, it was pretty clear that the rider must have had a heart attack.

But Andrea McDougal knew better.

McDougal_Satisfaction (1)

Andrea and Christoper McDougal, owners of McDougal Movie Medics

“Part of my job as a medic is knowing the medical conditions of many of the people I might be treating on a production,” says Andrea, a native of Columbus. “I knew the biker was a diabetic and that he had probably passed out from hypoglycemia. Knowing that made a difference in how we dealt with his emergency.”

Andrea and her husband Christopher serve as medics on a growing number of film and TV productions in Georgia. Their company –– McDougal Movie Medics –– provide emergency services during the set-construction phase as well as the actual filming.

Both are certified paramedics with medical direction, a classification that enables them to carry and administer life-saving drugs in an emergency. Before her work in Georgia’s production industry, Andrea was with Grady EMS and served as a civilian contractor to the military in Iraq. She also did research at Emory University in emergency neuroscience and traumatic brain injuries. Christopher is a former captain and paramedic with the Atlanta Fire Department.

Their first work on a production in Atlanta was “Lila and Eve,” a film with Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis made in 2012.  Other credits include two seasons on the TV show “Satisfaction,” “Passengers” with Jennifer Lawrence, “Spiderman Homecoming,” “Ant Man and the Wasp,” “Pitch Perfect 3” and three seasons of “Star.”

McDougal Movie Medics staffs productions with a pool of experience medics the couple has cultivated over the years. For many, opportunities through the company has a ripple effect, leading others to their own production jobs where they bring their own cadre of recruits into the industry, Andrea says. McDougal Movie Medics has become a ladder up for other medics and a barometer for the growth and vitality of the film and TV industry in Georgia.

Another indicator of the industries impact in Georgia can be found in RV parks around town.

“When we began working on films we had a home in Roswell and we had to commute for hours each way,” Andrea says. “When a working day is 12 hours or more, the commute is a backbreaker. So we bought an RV to park near the production and would go home on weekends.”

When they first moved into the RV park, they found other film families who had come here in RVs from around the country. And what started as a convenience for transients is transforming into a permanent base in a new state.

“The interesting thing now is to see the number of people who have given up their RVs and bought homes in Georgia,” she says. “The impact of the industry on Georgia is far reaching — it’s not just jobs. It’s establishing a foothold, buying homes, settling into careers because of all the opportunities.”

 

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