South East Coast Ambulance Service is urging the public to use 999 responsibly this New Year’s Eve as it prepares to manage high levels of demand.
The service experienced significant pressure over the Christmas period and is expecting to face particularly high demand in the lead up to New Year and during the celebrations themselves. On Christmas Day the Trust handled more than 3,200 calls with this increasing to more than 3,600 calls on Boxing Day.
Life-threatening and serious calls will be prioritised but people in a less serious condition are likely to wait for an ambulance response when demand is high.
Last year ambulance crews responded to more than 600 emergency calls in the six hours between 10pm on 31 December 2016 to 4am on 1 January 2017. During the same period staff in the Trust’s Emergency Operations Centres handled hundreds more calls, at an average rate of approximately three calls a minute, providing advice over the phone or directing callers to another part of the health service.
When to call 999:
If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:
• heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)
• sudden unexplained shortness of breath
• heavy bleeding
• unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)
• traumatic back/spinal/neck pain
You should also call for an ambulance if:
• you think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening
• you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital
• moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury
• the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel
SECAmb tips for staying safe
- If drinking alcohol – have fun but be sensible. Look out for others you’re with and drink water between alcoholic drinks
• Excess alcohol consumption on its own isn’t usually a reason to dial 999 for someone but if there’s another complaint causing concern or someone loses consciousness then dial 999 without delay
• Plan your evening. How are you getting home?
• Wear layers as they keep you warmer than one thicker layer. They can also easily be removed as you warm up
• Look out for any vulnerable friends and neighbours
• Remember 999 is for emergencies – if it’s not an emergency and you need health advice remember alternatives including calling NHS 111