Cold snap puts pressure on busy ambulance service

An ambulance.
An ambulance.

Freezing conditions have seen East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EMAS) deal with 5,448 more calls than during the same period last year (eight per cent increase), putting significant strain on the service.

Historically, New Year’s Day is the busiest day for the 999 service. However, four days during December 2014 have already got close to the January 1 2014 figure.

In the lead up to New Year’s Day 2015 the public is urged to use 999 wisely, particularly with the current challenging road conditions.

999 emergency, urgent and NHS111 referall calls received at EMAS:

1 January 2014 - 3,293 calls (historically the busiest day for the service)

13 December 2014 - 3,063 calls

26 December 2014 - 2,975 calls

27 December 2014 - 3,160 calls

28 December 2014 - 3,104 calls

During December 25-28 EMAS has given face to face response to 7,645 of the 11,712 calls received. Only 50 per cent of the people calling 999 during that time went to hospital, meaning the ambulance crews were able to use their skills to provide treatment and care on scene saving the patient from having to go to hospital, and in some cases that services were not used appropriately.

The EMAS Clinical Assessment Team (CAT- paramedics and nurses) dealt with over 1,900 calls in the last four days taking some of the pressure off clinicians responding to calls in ambulance and fast response car vehicles.

Pete Ripley, associate director at EMAS said: “Demand on our service continues to be significantly high, and this together with the challenging road conditions has made it very difficult for us to get to people quickly.

“To ensure we can continue to help those in the most need, we need the public’s support, particularly on New Year’s Day when we are preparing for even higher calls.

“Please only dial 999 in genuine emergencies such as cardiac arrest and chest pain, unconscious or severe loss of blood.”