Ambulance service brace themselves for a busy festive period

Communities / Thu 19th Dec 2013 am31 10:42am

FOR many people, Christmas is a time to relax and be merry. But illnesses and accidents can strike at any time, which is why for the ambulance service it will be business as usual over the festive period.

Hundreds of staff from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) will work as hard as ever this Christmas to help those who fall unwell or suffer an injury over the break.

George Lock, a call handler for EEAST who is working over the Christmas period, said: “Unfortunately, even though people are busy celebrating Christmas, thousands will still need our help so it’s really business as usual for us. We’ll receive calls about life-threatening situations such as people who are unconscious or who have suffered a stroke, to women who have gone into labour, to elderly people who have fallen.

“It is difficult working over Christmas and being away from your family, but at the same time it is worthwhile being able to talk to people in distress and reassure them in their time of need.”

Last Christmas Day, EEAST received 2,730 emergency 999 calls from people across the region, taking 1,214 people in total to hospital.

Damon Wheddon, Clinical Operations Manager for EEAST, said: “There will be cases of people overindulging in alcohol at Christmas time which can sadly lead to heightened emotions and even violence . It can also be a very lonely time for people and for some it can be too much to bear so we do see some suicide attempts. Other calls can involve overexcited children trapping fingers in doors or injuring themselves on their new toys. I once got called to an elderly woman who went horse riding once a year, on Christmas Day. Unfortunately on this occasion she fell and broke her hip.

“Whatever their injury or illness, it’s reassuring for people to know that we are on hand to help them out, either treating them on scene or taking them to hospital.”

Volunteers give up their Christmas to save lives

It’s not just the ambulance staff that will be working over Christmas. There will be hundreds of EEAST’s community first responders (CFRs) on duty providing immediate help at emergencies across the region.

Lorna Hayes, Regional Community Partnership Lead for EEAST, said: “The work never ends for our hard working volunteers, and Christmas can often be one of their busiest times of the year. They are a vital resource providing support in communities to those who have fallen unwell, and we’re incredibly grateful for their help as always. At a time when they could be tempted to put their feet up and relax with their family, they are instead out savings lives.”

From December 21, 2012 to January 6, 2013, CFRs were called to 1,613 emergencies including 93 on Christmas day and 123 on New Year’s Eve.

Wise Up For Winter: Ambulance issues health advice for festive period

During the winter period, EEAST has been issuing advice in order to raise awareness of the different avenues that members of the public can turn to for help and to be safe.

Marcus Bailey, Interim Consultant Paramedic for EEAST, said: “So far this winter we’ve promoted a variety of health topics as part of Wise Up For Winter. We’ve discussed minor illnesses such as coughs and colds, drinking in moderation, what to keep in your first aid box, and the importance of road safety.

“We’re also encouraging people to explore the different options as they might not always require an ambulance. If you’re unsure on what to do and it is not a life-threatening emergency, you can call 111 for advice. Pharmacists are also a great source of information and can provide over-the-counter medication in the case of minor illnesses – although bear in mind the majority will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 111 will be able to tell you how to access an emergency GP or pharmacist on the Bank Holidays but please make sure you’re prepared by stocking up on your prescription medicine beforehand.

“We’d recommend visiting our website and downloading our winter advice leaflet so that you have our tips close to hand, and above all we’d like to wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas.”

For more information about Wise Up For Winter, visit www.eastamb.nhs.uk or follow them on Twitter at @Eastenglandamb and Facebook at www.facebook.com/eastenglandamb for further health and safety tips.

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