Icy weather increases pressure on ambulance crews

Ambulance crews have dealt with 900 more calls than usual during the last few days.
Ambulance crews have dealt with 900 more calls than usual during the last few days.

Ambulance bosses say the recent freezing conditions mean East Midlands Ambulance Service crews have dealt with 900 more calls than during the same period last year.

Between Thursday, January 17, and Sunday, January 20, 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.

A spokesman for EMAS said: “In Northamptonshire forward planning measures such as installing winter tyres across our fleet and partnering with organisations such as the Red Cross and St John Ambulance to pool four-wheel-drive vehicles means EMAS is well placed to deal with the demands of the weather.”

However, the service is asking people to help them cope with the huge spike in calls by only dialling 999 for emergencies and the most serious illnesses.

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.

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.

“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.”

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.

To find out about NHS health services near to you visit www.nhs.uk. To find which service you need if you are unwell phone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.