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Help support the ambulance service across the bank holiday weekend

25 May 2018

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is asking for the public’s support over what is expected to be a busy bank holiday weekend.

The Trust is urging people to use its service wisely and to seek alternatives to 999 if they are not facing a life-threatening or serious emergency.

Across the early May bank holiday weekend, (5-7 May), SECAmb’s two Emergency Operations Centres handled in the region of 9,000 calls.

The high demand will see the Trust working hard to prioritise its response to patients with the greatest need. However, people not facing a serious or life-threatening emergency could wait longer for a response. Those not in a serious condition are urged to seek alternatives to 999 including calling NHS 111, visiting a walk-in centre or speaking to a pharmacist.

While staff in SECAmb’s NHS 111 service are also expecting high demand, they will be ready to provide helpful advice and where necessary direct callers to out-of-hours providers.

SECAmb is also reminding people to keep an eye on vulnerable friends, relatives or neighbours.

SECAmb Executive Director of Operations Joe Garcia said: “Bank holiday weekends are always a busy time for us and I know staff and our volunteers will be working extremely hard to get people the help they need as quickly as possible. We’ll be prioritising our response to those in the greatest need. At times this could mean that those not facing a serious or life-threatening situation may have to wait longer or seek alternatives to an ambulance response.

“Of course, if it’s a serious or life-threatening emergency, no one should hesitate in dialing 999 but people can really help us by remembering to make use of the alternatives including calling NHS 111, where our staff will also be working hard to provide people with the assistance they need.”

“Ahead of the weekend I’d like to thank all our staff and volunteers who I know will be showing their usual high levels of professionalism and commitment.”

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

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