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Trust offers festive health advice

14 December 2010

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust is entering the festive spirit by offering some helpful advice for people to stay healthy over the Christmas holidays.

With the festive season now upon us and with a high chance of further cold and severe weather affecting the region, the Trust is urging people to follow some simple measures to stay safe.

Christmas and New Year is always a busy time for the ambulance service and so far this year, call volume is significantly higher than last year. Last weekend, (11-12 December), SECAmb received 4,233 emergency calls – a 10% increase on the weekend of 12-13 December 2009 when 3,849 calls were received.

Last New Year’s Eve the Trust dealt with well in excess of 1,000 calls during the last few hours of 2009 and the first hours of 2010.

Senior Operations Manager for SECAmb, James Pavey said: “We obviously want everyone to enjoy themselves over the festive season but if people are drinking alcohol we urge them to drink sensibly and responsibly.”

“In addition, following a few simple measures such as wearing layers of clothing to keep warm which can then be easily removed when entering warm shops, or keeping details of out-of-hours GP services and dentists close to hand can all help to keep you safe and well this winter.”

People can help the Trust at this busy time by following some simple measures:
• With the cold weather set to continue, wear a few thin layers when you go out so they can easily be removed as you warm up or enter warm shops or buildings.  A few thin layers will also keep you warmer than one or two thick layers.

• If it is icy or wet outside take extra care, especially when walking or driving.  Leave yourself longer to get where you need to be and if you are walking, wear shoes that have a grip rather than smooth soles.

• With many shops and pharmacies closed over Christmas, stock up your medicine cabinet in advance. Items such as cold remedies, pain killers, indigestion tablets, diarrhoea or constipation remedies and plasters are useful to have in the home all year round.

• If you take regular or prescription medications make sure that you have a large enough supply to keep you going over the Christmas period – and remember to keep taking them.

• Make sure that you know in advance the telephone number for your local out-of-hours doctor and dentist. Your local surgery or regular dentist should be able to provide you with this information.

• Enjoy yourself and the festivities but please remember to drink sensibly and responsibly. In most cases, excessive alcohol consumption on its own is not a reason to call an ambulance. However, if an intoxicated person appears to have another complaint that gives cause for concern, or they lose consciousness and cannot be roused, please call for an ambulance without delay.

When to call 999:

If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:
• heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)
• sudden unexplained shortness of breath
• heavy bleeding
• unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)
• traumatic back/spinal/neck pain

You should also call for an ambulance if: 
• you think the patient's illness or injury is life-threatening
• you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital
• moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury
• the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel
• traffic conditions could cause a delay in getting the person to hospital and time could be critical

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