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Make the Right Call, say ambulance bosses

Get Wise In Winter Med
Make the Right Call, say ambulance bosses
21 December 2012

Ambulance bosses today asked the public to Get Wise in Winter as emergency staff gear up for a surge in demand on the night they have dubbed Black Friday.

One of the year’s heaviest volume of 999 calls traditionally falls on the Friday of the last full weekend before Christmas as the peak of the party season combines with winter illnesses and dipping temperatures.

And tonight follows a record breaking week last week for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) which responded to 19,529 calls in the seven days from December 10.

EEAST also reassured the public it will be making the Right Call for the wide range of different incidents that come in.

Calls are prioritised, like they are in hospital A&E departments, for different waiting times to ensure crews can get to the most serious patients first.

The target for life-threatening conditions is to get to 75% within eight minutes. But everything else nationally is graded to wait from between 20 minutes to an hour. The target for a suspected fracture, for example, with no other emergency symptoms is 30 minutes.

The most minor incidents will get telephone advice or be redirected to a more appropriate means of treatment.

The service advised revellers to think before each drink and party safe so they don’t put their own health – or that of others – at risk and actually enjoy their festive celebrations.

Extra resources will be put on to cope with the increase in demand but, in order for crews to get life-saving treatment to patients who need it, they are reiterating the message that unless a caller requires immediate medical help they will need to be prepared to wait according to their clinical need.

Neil Storey, Director of Operations, warned that calls for trivial incidents or ones where people simply needed transport to A&E but did not require medical supervision en route potentially meant putting a life-threatened patient at risk.

“999 is really for serious medical emergencies so other incidents will be prioritised accordingly,” he said.

“People can help themselves have an enjoyable night and stay well. A party is no fun when it ends with a stay in A&E and all it requires to have a good night is to plan ahead for transport home, look after your friends and be conscious of how much you’re drinking.”

Regionwide last year the service responded to more than 7,000 calls from December 16 to 18 – the last full weekend before Christmas – up by more than 11% on four weeks previously.

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