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999 For Emergencies Only

24 May 2013

The region’s ambulance service is appealing for people to call 999 wisely during the forthcoming bank holiday weekend to avoid any unnecessary pressure on the valuable life-saving service.

Bank holiday periods are a time when Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust traditionally sees an increase in the number of 999 calls for emergency assistance and they expect this weekend will be no exception as they are preparing to be just as busy.

This has prompted the service, which can be a life-line in a genuine life-threatening emergency, to urge people with minor ailments to consider the variety of other healthcare services available to them to ensure emergency resources are available for those who need them most.

David Williams, Deputy Director of Operations at the Trust, said: “The high volume of calls we receive during the bank holiday periods puts the service under increased strain and makes it harder for us to ensure we can get to all of the people calling 999 for ambulance assistance quickly.

“Typically, more people will be out and about socialising which can lead to an increase in illness and injury and, as many people will be celebrating the extra day off with an alcoholic drink or two, we usually see a rise in alcohol-fuelled incidents too.” 

The Trust says that it is not uncommon for ambulance staff to respond to people who have reported a serious condition only to find they have a minor illness or injury which would have been more appropriately dealt with by NHS Direct, a local pharmacist, a GP or a minor injuries unit and this could delay us getting to someone with a more serious or life-threatening condition.

David continued: “We don’t want to deter people from calling 999 in a genuine medical emergency such as a cardiac arrest, breathing difficulties or stroke, and would like to reassure members of the public that we will have additional resources in place to manage the anticipated rise in demand during the busy period.

“All we ask is that people think carefully about whether they really need to call 999 for an emergency ambulance or whether someone else’s need could be greater.”  

Members of the public should only call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency when it is obvious that they or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical help such as cardiac arrest, breathing difficulties or stroke.

For many ailments a local pharmacist can provide advice on illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them at home. People can also get help at an NHS walk-in centre or minor injuries unit which are usually open early morning until late at night, or they can ring NHS 111, the new urgent care helpline which is available 24 hours a day.

Jumping the queue at hospital emergency departments is believed to be a motive for some 999 calls. However, people should be aware that on arrival at hospital, patients are treated according to the urgency of their medical need, regardless of how they made their way to hospital.


Produced By: Corporate Communications Department