As we get closer to Christmas, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is calling on party-goers to drink responsibly whilst enjoying themselves and to think before they dial 999, only calling on the ambulance service for life threatening incidents.
“Mad Friday” is the last working Friday before Christmas and involves revellers who have been drinking for a good proportion of the day and a subsequent increase in 999 calls to the ambulance service.
Last year the service saw a 12.5 per cent rise in overall calls and a 20 per cent rise in life-threatening “Red” calls on “Mad Friday” compared to the previous year. In the festive season last year, the Trust received a range of calls due to drunken incidents which could have been prevented if sensible precautions and actions were taken by individuals.
NWAS’s year to date figures show that the Trust is dealing with a 28 per cent increase in “Red” calls – these are patients who have life-threatening or potentially life-threatening conditions, compared to last year and while frontline staff work hard to provide a life-saving service for these patients, “Mad Friday” comes along and presents them with a further challenge.
NWAS Director of Operations, Derek Cartwright explains: “The rise in activity we are seeing throughout the North West region is being replicated all across the country, with many services stating that this is the busiest time they have ever experienced.
“Last Christmas we received a call from a party-goer, knowing full well he was going out drinking, requesting an ambulance to be put on standby for later that the night. This is the kind of behaviour and expectations which must change. Ambulances are not mobile first aid providers, we don’t give lifts home when people can’t get a taxi. While we were trying to explain to this caller why we couldn’t provide an ambulance on standby, someone was trying to get through.
“Our ambulance crews are highly trained and skilled clinicians who provide life-saving and emergency medical care and should be treated as such. The Trust needs people to take some responsibility for their own safety during this busy period. We have many cases of mild hyperthermia when people are out drinking – alcohol reduces your body temperature, so wear a coat and wear sensible shoes when going out and make arrangements to get home safely.
“In genuine life-threatening emergencies, time matters. So if people stop and think about drinking this Christmas and take a sensible approach, they can play their part in helping to ensuring ambulance crews are free to attend to vulnerable and very poorly people.
“Come the morning after, it is also important to remember hangovers, headaches and feeling under the weather after a night out can generally be treated in your own home using medicine from your local pharmacist and getting plenty of rest and fluid.”
Last week the Trust launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #MakeTheRightCall to encourage people to think twice before calling 999 and consider alternatives for minor illnesses and injuries.