AMUBULANCE chiefs are urging party-goers to drink responsibly during the festive season and to think before they dial 999 so that paramedics are able to deal with life-threatening incidents.
On the Friday before Christmas – known as ‘Mad Friday’ – the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is expecting a spike in emergency calls as the Christmas party season goes into over-drive.
Emergency medical dispatchers, who answer emergency 999 calls to the ambulance service, answer almost 4,000 calls every day. However, ‘Mad Friday’ is expected to present them with further challenges, many of which could be prevented if people were to take sensible precautions.
Recent examples of frivolous 999 calls include:
l A call made by a patient who had banged their knee. At the same time, an ambulance crew rushed to a patient gasping for breath.
lA person who’d noticed a lump on his bottom. One minute later, NWAS were called to a male who was found unresponsive on the floor.
l A call by a man who had hurt his ankle the day before. Shortly after, a call came in for a patient with difficulty breathing.
l A call from a patient who had injured their ankle playing football. At the same time, NWAS was also called to a one-year-old baby suffering breathing difficulties due to an allergic reaction.
In these instances although ambulances were not sent to the first set of calls, they did hold up the line for serious emergencies where time can mean the difference between life and death.
NWAS director of operations, Ged Blezard, said: “The service is incredibly busy and we don’t have spare paramedics and ambulances to deal with the extra calls which occasions such as Mad Friday present us with. We need people to take some responsibility for their own safety during this busy period.
“In genuine life-threatening emergencies, time matters. If people stop and think about their actions and try not to have one too many during the festive period, they can help us to get to the vulnerable and very poorly people that really need us – it could be one of their relatives relying on us.
“It is also important to remember hangovers, headaches and feeling under the weather after a night out can generally be treated using medicine from your local pharmacist and getting plenty of rest and fluid.”