Busiest night of year for ambulance service

editorial image

Ambulance bosses are appealling for people to use their emergency service wisely on the busiest night of the year - New Year’s Eve.

Dr Julian Mark, Executive Medical Director at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust warns that 999 calls for trivial incidents and minor conditions can potentially put those with life-threatening illnesses and injuries at risk by diverting ambulances elsewhere.

He said: “We don’t want to spoil anyone’s night but we are asking those who are out and about on New Year’s Eve to think before each drink and stay safe to ensure they don’t put their own health or that of others at risk. We want everyone to enjoy their celebrations safely and sensibly.

“People can help themselves to have an enjoyable night and stay well. All it requires is to be aware of how much you’re drinking, eat beforehand, plan ahead for transport home and look after yourself and your friends.

“Please leave your car at home, use public transport or arrange alternative transport such as a taxi. If you are going to a party and know you’re going to be driving the next day, know your limits. You can choose lower strength drinks and drink single rather than double measures of spirits. It’s also a good idea to alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water and stop drinking alcohol well before the end of the night so you are free of the effects of alcohol by the following morning.

“Most of all please remember that the 999 number should only be used in serious medical emergencies and people should use the service responsibly to help ensure that our valuable resources are available for those who need them most.”

Dr Julian Mark continued: “If New Year’s Eve this year mirrors those of previous years we will also have staff who find themselves on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse. This behaviour is completely unacceptable and we will prosecute anyone who is offensive towards our staff who are there to help people in need.”

Yorkshire Ambulance Service is also reminding people who require treatment or advice for a minor illness or injury to consider other more appropriate healthcare services available to them such as self-care, pharmacists, GP surgeries, urgent care centres or NHS 111 and only to call 999 when someone is in need of time-critical life-saving help.

Details on where to find the most appropriate help can be found on the Trust’s website: http://www.yas.nhs.uk/Calling999/Choose_Well.html

Examples of when you should call 999 for an ambulance: chest pain, difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness, heavy loss of blood, severe burns and scalds, choking, fitting/convulsions, drowning, severe allergic reaction and head injury. Please note: This is not an exhaustive list.

Last year Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust responded to 1,480 incidents over the 12-hour period from 18.00 on 31 December 2013 to 06.00 on 1 January 2014 (866 of these (over 59%) were between midnight and 06.00). The busiest time was in the early hours of the morning and between midnight and 03.00 there were 55 emergency calls to assaults.

People should not regularly exceed their recommended daily amounts of alcohol, which is three to four units for a man and two to three units for a woman. To put that into real terms, a pint of 4% lager contains 2.3 units as does a 175ml glass of 13% wine.

There is a variety of healthcare services available:

Self-care - A range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home by combining a well-stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest. This is the best choice for very minor illnesses and injuries.

NHS 111 - NHS 111 provides confidential health advice and information, 24 hours a day.

Pharmacist - Your local pharmacist can give you advice on illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them. Visit a pharmacist when you are suffering from a common health problem which does not require being seen by a nurse or doctor.

GP - GP surgeries provide a range of services by appointment, including medical advice, examinations, and prescriptions. In an emergency, a GP can also visit your home outside of opening hours by contacting your local surgery and following the recorded instructions.

NHS walk-in centre, urgent care centre, or minor injuries unit - You do not need an appointment and you will be seen by an experienced nurse or GP. These services give healthcare and advice and most are open from early in the morning until late at night. Visit one of these centres if you need medical treatment or advice which does not need a visit to A&E or a medical appointment.

A&E or 999 - A&E or 999 should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation when someone is seriously ill or injured.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust covers almost 6,000 square miles of varied terrain from isolated moors and dales to urban areas, coastline and inner cities and provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to a population of more than five million people. The organisation receives an average of 2,180 emergency and urgent calls per day and employs over 4,600 staff.