The alert follows a surge of 999 calls on Christmas Day when the South East Coast Ambulance service dealt with thousands of pleas for help.
Now people are being urged not to call 999 on New Year’s Eve unless it is a genuine emergency.
The ambulance service handled more than 3,200 calls on Christmas Day and more than 3,600 calls on Boxing Day.
With New Year’s Eve looking, a spokesman said: “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 December 31 to 4am on January 1. During the same period staff in the ambulance service’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.
Now SECAmb is urging people:
“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.”
SECAmb executive director of operations Joe Garcia said: “Christmas was as expected, very busy and we’re very proud of the efforts of all our staff in both our 999 and 111 centres and out on the road. We’d ask the public for their continued support now and for New Year’s Eve when, once again, we expect to come under heavy pressure.
“We’re urging people to consider the alternatives to dialling 999 when they’re not faced with a life-threatening or serious emergency, including calling NHS 111 for assistance.
“Staff will be working extremely hard to get help to those who need it. Staff in our emergency operations centres will be prioritising life-threatening and serious calls and those not facing a serious emergency will wait longer. By using 999 responsibly this New Year’s Eve, people can ensure we are best placed to respond to our most seriously ill and injured patients.
“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 (eg 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, orthe patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel.”
For further information on how to protect yourself and others this winter please visit our website here: http://www.secamb.nhs.uk/about_us/news/2017/help_us_to_help_you.aspx
Or click on the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/staywell/#d7bxHGEs0CmHyO1R.97