Skip to content

Please help support your ambulance service this festive season

13 December 2016

With Christmas just around the corner South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is asking for the public’s support during what is always a busy time of the year.

XmasThroughout the Christmas period the Trust will be tweeting tips to help people stay safe and support the ambulance service from its @SECAmbulance Twitter account using the hashtag #XmasSupportSECAmb.

With demand already extremely high this year with close to 62,000 responses in November – up some 3,500 on November 2015 – staff are working flat out to reach those in need as quickly as possible.

Ambulance control room staff will, however, be ensuring those in a life threatening and serious condition are prioritised. Anyone who requires an ambulance response will receive one but patients in a less serious condition are likely to wait longer.

SECAmb Interim Director of Operations Joe Garcia said: “Christmas, New Year and indeed the lead up to festive season is, as I’m sure people realise, a very busy time of the year for us as an ambulance service and the wider NHS. We have plans in place to manage the expected demand but we know it is going to be a challenge.

“All our staff will be working really hard to ensure our patients get the help and treatment they need and we are always particularly proud of the professionalism they show at this time of year.

“We’d like to remind people to only dial 999 in the event of a serious emergency and remember the other options available, such as calling NHS 111, which we run in partnership across Kent, Surrey and Sussex with Care UK.”

Public ‘ambulance to-do list’

  • Order any repeat prescriptions you or your friends and family need
  • Stock up on your medicines cabinet as well as the Christmas chocolates – cold remedies, pain killers, indigestion tablets, diarrhoea or constipation remedies and plasters are useful to have in the home all year round
  • If you’re in an at risk group – don’t forget it’s not too late to book a flu jab
  • Look out for any vulnerable friends and neighbours – what could you do to make their Christmas and New Year safer?

Joe added: “We have developed a number of ways in which we can help people and while we’ll always send an ambulance response when it’s really needed, clinicians in our control room can also provide people with advice over the phone or we will direct callers to a more appropriate service if they don’t require an ambulance.”

“We’d also urge people to add a few extra items to their ‘to do’ lists including stocking up their medicines cabinets, ordering any necessary repeat prescriptions and checking on elderly or vulnerable friends. As the party season approaches we want everyone to have fun but stay safe by keeping an eye on each other and minimising the chances of having to contact us.”

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

Bookmark and Share