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Ambulance service asks for public’s support over long Easter weekend

24 March 2016

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is asking the public for its support as its staff prepare for what will, as ever, be a busy long Easter weekend.

The Trust is reminding people to pick up any repeat prescriptions, keep an eye on elderly or vulnerable family, friends or neighbours and to check medicine cabinets are stocked with any useful and in-date medication.

SECAmb always prepares for busy periods such as Easter and other public holidays and has plans in place to manage an expected increase in demand. However, with call volume already high, it is reminding the public that 999 should only be dialled in a serious emergency.

Last year, between Good Friday and Easter Monday, staff in SECAmb’s Emergency Operations Centres handled more than 10,000 calls across its Kent, Surrey and Sussex region.

The region’s NHS 111 service, which SECAmb runs in partnership with Care UK, is also ready to help the public across the extended bank holiday weekend. The service is also expecting high demand having handled approximately 23,000 calls across Easter last year – an average of four calls a minute.

SECAmb Paramedic and Head of Resilience & Specialist Operations, Andy Cashman explains: “We always plan ahead for times when we know demand is likely to be higher and this weekend is no exception. The extended Easter bank holiday typically sees further increases in demand placed upon our resources.

“Our staff in our 999 and 111 control rooms along with our road crews will be working extremely hard to get patients the help they need.

“We’re asking the public for their help by remembering that 999 should be reserved for serious emergencies. If a call isn’t related to something serious or life-threatening it will be categorised as a lower priority call and may receive a longer response or clinical advice over the phone.

“Anyone faced with an emergency shouldn’t hesitate to call but we would urge anyone else who needs help to consider all the other options available to them. This might be dialling NHS 111 for help, where staff can provide support and advice over the phone and refer patient to out-of-hours services where appropriate. Also, while pharmacies may not be operating their usual hours, they too can be a useful place where members of the public can receive expert advice on routine illnesses such as coughs and colds.”

Details of local service providers including pharmacies and medical advice can also be found at the NHS Choices website – www.nhs.uk

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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