Ambulance service sees a spike in 999 calls

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Freezing conditions over the weekend have seen the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) deal with 900 more calls than during the same period last year.

Between Thursday and Sunday, the 999 service received 6,335 calls, compared to 5,395 over the same dates in 2012. Of these calls, 1,118 related to falls and 140 to road traffic incidents.

In Lincolnshire, forward planning measures such as installing winter tyres across the fleet means EMAS is well placed to deal with the demands of the weather.

Paul StClair, EMAS deputy director of operations, said: “We are receiving a huge volume of calls through our control centres in Nottingham and Lincoln. This includes dealing with road traffic accidents across the patch and the impact of the cold weather on the elderly and those with existing medical conditions.

“I’m proud of the fantastic job our staff are doing in assisting patients despite difficult weather conditions.

“To ensure we can continue to help those in the most need we need the public’s support. Please only dial 999 in genuine emergencies such as severe loss of blood, loss of consciousness, chest pains and fitting.”

EMAS is making a plea to the public to help them continue to cope with the huge spike in calls by only dialling 999 for emergencies and the most serious illnesses. They are reminding people that 999 calls are dealt with according to clinical priority so that those with the most serious conditions such as suspected heart attacks or strokes are always seen first.

Those who dial 999 with minor complaints will receive quicker, more appropriate treatment from other NHS services such as minor injuries units, walk-in centres or their GP.

More than 1,000 calls received since last Thursday were for conditions where people could have received help from other NHS services such as NHS Direct or their local out-of-hours GP service.

Just 1,837 of all calls received during the four days of snow and ice were immediately life-threatening.

EMAS said it was grateful to Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Service (LIVES), fire and rescue co-Responders and all first responders despatched to calls by EMAS.

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* If you or a family member and unwell and you’re unsure which service you need call NHS Direct for advice and information on 0845 4647.