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East Midlands Ambulance Service receives more than 1,000 999 calls in first seven hours of New Year's Day

The region's ambulance service is asking people only to call 999 if there is a life-threatening emergency after it received more than 1,000 calls in the first seven hours of New Year's Day.

East Midlands Ambulance Service received 1,021 emergency and urgent calls during the first seven hours of 2020, with a new 999 call received every 20 seconds throughout the busiest hours.

By 3am, its 999 control rooms had taken almost 600 emergency and urgent calls – a figure not normally reached until at least 9am even on busy days.

An ambulance responds to an emergency. Stock picture (24562416)
An ambulance responds to an emergency. Stock picture (24562416)

Calls were for a variety of conditions including trips and falls, breathing problems and road traffic collisions. Many calls related to illness or injury suffered as a result of too much alcohol.

EMAS has been running a strategic command cell – key operational leads and senior management – each day since early December to respond swiftly to incidents, to support with peaks in demand and to liaise with other parts of the care system to manage the increased demand.

Strategic commander Ben Holdaway said: "We expect New Year's Eve and into News Year’s Day to be our busiest time of the year, but we have also seen unprecedented levels of activity in the service over the last couple of months.

"Our teams have been working tirelessly to prepare for the overall rise in demand expected during December, January and into February and we continue to work closely with colleagues in other NHS organisations to ensure patients receive the help they need.

“Crews in our emergency ambulances and fast response vehicles, volunteer responders and teams in our Emergency Operations Centres have worked fantastically over the first few hours of the year.

“The support they have received from our mechanics, support staff and administration teams has been equally impressive.

“I would like to send my personal thanks to all colleagues and volunteers for their hard work and wish them a Happy New Year."

EMAS is continuing to urge people to use only use 999 for urgent and immediately life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • Suspected strokes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Heavy bleeding/bleeding that won’t stop
  • Loss of consciousness.

EMAS expects activity levels to remain high through January and February and during busy periods will prioritise the most serious cases, advising other callers that they will need to wait until resources become available.

People are being asked find the most appropriate service for their conditions. Help with less serious conditions is available from GP surgeries, pharmacies, by dialling NHS111 or visiting NHS111 online, or by visiting local walk-in centres.

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