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Do you know when you should call 999 for an ambulance?

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'Use 999 sensibly' urges Yorkshire Ambulance Service

18 December 2008

Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) is urging people to think twice before they call 999 for an ambulance as demand for the service is at its highest during the winter and festive periods.

Alternatives such as a visit to the local pharmacy, GP or Walk-in Centre, or calling NHS Direct (0845 4647) may be more appropriate for simple medical advice on ailments such as toothache or a cut finger.

During the first 17 days of December, there was a 12.1% increase in the number of emergency calls compared to the same period last year (16.6% increase in life-threatening Category A calls). The chief complaints were trauma incidents including falls and back injuries, breathing problems and loss of consciousness.

The Christmas and New Year period is traditionally very busy, particularly with more calls relating to winter illnesses and alcohol-related incidents.

YAS A&E Operations Director Ian Walton said: “Winter is always a challenging time for any ambulance service but we have robust plans in place, including additional resources, to ensure that we can continue to provide a first-class service.

“Whilst we will always respond to medical emergencies, we often find crews are delayed by having to attend callers with non-urgent conditions.

“We are appealing to people to only call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency when it is obvious that you or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury. Emergency ambulances are for people who are very poorly and need time-critical help.

“Patients continue to be our first priority and YAS is committed to providing the highest quality clinical care. We aim to reach patients as quickly as possible.”

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department