While everyone has been enjoying their turkey and mince pies and relaxing with loved ones, for North West Ambulance Service staff, it has been business as usual with thousands of incidents responded to over the festive period.
The Trust answered 4,111 emergency calls and attended 3,178 incidents on Christmas Day alone and this figure has increased on subsequent days as the Trust urges the public to only call in the case of real emergencies.
Among the “non emergency calls received over the Xmas period were a call about someone with hiccups, a person with a chipped tooth and another person complaining of stomach ache after swallowing toothpaste.
Director of Operations, Ged Blezard comments: “This Christmas has been one of our busiest ever and there are no indications that activity is going to reduce as we head towards New Year’s Eve – traditionally always our busiest day.
On the 27th December we were astounded to see that our control staff had answered 5,491 emergency calls and we know that not all of these required an emergency ambulance response.
“Unfortunately, there have been some patients who have been waiting longer than we would like but I want to assure the public that we are doing the very best we can to reach people as quickly as possible, but if your condition is not urgent, you will wait some time for a response or be given advice on other healthcare options.”
The sudden cold snap currently being experienced in the region is also likely to increase activity as those with heart and lung conditions need our help.
Add to this, ice on the roads means treacherous driving conditions, bringing about an increase in road traffic collisions and also slows down ambulances as they can’t travel as quickly as usual.
Ged adds, “Please do check on elderly and infirm friends, relatives or neighbours, make sure their homes are adequately heated and they have the medications they need. For coughs, colds and sore throats, seek advice from your pharmacist.
“Ambulances must be kept free for those in urgent or life-threatening conditions and should not be used as a quick route into hospital.
“Our staff in the call centres and out on the roads are working incredibly hard at the moment and doing the best they can for patients but we also need the public’s help in making the right call.”
As New Year’s Eve approaches, NWAS is also reminding people to act responsibly. Ged Explains: “On this night we see an increase in assault and alcohol related injuries and these are avoidable if people take some simple steps – eat well, don’t drink to excess and wear warm clothing when out and about. No-one wants to see in the New Year with a headache and bruises.”