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

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

“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 –

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
• sudden unexplained shortness of breath
• heavy bleeding
• unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained
• traumatic back/spinal/neck pain
 You should also call for an ambulance if: 
• you think the patient’s illness or injury is
• 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