Snow hits Uttlesford: Sharp hike in calls for ambulance service

AS SNOW continues its grip on the area ambulance bosses are renewing their pleas for public support.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust has seen a sharp rise in 999 calls over recent days, particularly to road traffic collisions, people who have fallen and those with breathing problems, which, along with the winter weather, is putting pressure on resources.

As well as the west and south of the region suffering the more extreme of the snowy conditions, the cold weather is of course prevalent throughout the region and is set to continue.

During the next few days, Christmas shoppers should be very careful out in high streets to avoid falls, and take extra care if you’re making longer journeys to do your festive shopping.

Bosses are urging people to consider if their condition can be dealt with by a wealth of other NHS services, such as NHS direct, out of hours doctors and walk in centres, and only call 999 in a genuine emergency, otherwise they could be taking help away from the people who really need it.

Over the weekend crews went out to more than 6000 calls, a rise of nearly 20 per cent compared to four weeks ago. Out of these, 2300 were in the highest priority category.

Members of the public are also being asked to be good neighbours and check up on any vulnerable people living nearby.

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The Trust is reassuring patients that while the wait for an ambulance may be longer than usual help is on its way and not to take up more resources by calling again unless their condition changes.

Chief executive of the Trust Hayden Newton said: “We had one of our busiest weekends ever over Friday, Saturday and Sunday and it looks as if high demand is set to continue along with the difficult weather conditions.

“We want to thank the public for their patience so far but are appealing again for people to be sensible and helpful. If your condition can be treated by other NHS services that frees up an ambulance to get to someone who could be in a real life-threatening situation so please think before you dial and don’t call us again if help is already on its way unless your condition changes.

“Our priority is to ensure we continue to answer emergency calls and respond appropriately to each of them wherever that emergency is. But the time and resources involved in attending people who don’t really need an ambulance means we can’t get to those who are more seriously ill.

“Please also think about any vulnerable people living nearby as well as friends and relatives whose lives could be saved by a simply call to check they are coping.”

Remember, always call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, for example:

* chest pain

* difficulty in breathing

* unconsciousness

* severe loss of blood

* severe burns or scalds

* choking

* fitting or concussion

* drowning

* severe allergic reaction

* If you suspect a stroke (Do the FAST test - Facial weakness - can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped? Arm weakness - can the person raise both arms? Speech problems - can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Time to call 999.)

If you’ve got flu:

* The ambulance service should not be contacted regarding flu unless it is a serious case that might require hospitalisation.

* Stay at home, keep warm, drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated and take ‘over the counter’ medication such as paracetemol or ibruprofen

* For those people identified as being at greater risk of serious complications, get in touch with your GP via telephone. This includes people with chronic underlying medical problems such as asthma or breathing difficulties; pregnant women; as well as the very young and very old.

* Where we do attend patients with flu, we will try to treat as many as we can at home to reduce the pressure on hospitals.

Where to get treatment and advice for non urgent illness and accident:

GP or practice nurse, you can call even when the surgery is closed and either be redirected to the GP out of hours service or given a number to contact them.

NHS Direct on 0845 4647 will give you advice and information over the telephone 24/7 Visit your a local walk in clinic, there is one in most major towns and cities, where no appointment is necessary.