South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb)
has praised the efforts of its staff and volunteers who went the
extra mile to respond to patients over the long Easter weekend.

Across its Kent, Sussex and Surrey region demand was up 11%
compared to Easter 2015 with the Trust’s 999 Emergency Operations
Centres receiving more than 9,500 999 calls.

Staff in the region’s NHS111 service, which SECAmb runs in
partnership with Care UK, were also extremely busy providing urgent
care advice and arranging out-of-hours appointments. Some 2,000
calls originating from NHS111 received an ambulance response – an
increase of approximately 2.5% on 2015.

The increase in demand was coupled with the challenges of
responding to Storm Katie in the early hours of Monday. Staff and
volunteers including dedicated teams of Community First Responders
worked tirelessly to reach patients as quickly as possible.

The Trust remains extremely busy with demand up on last year. It
is asking the public for its continued support by remembering that
999 should only be used in an emergency. Control room staff will
triage calls and prioritise life-threatening emergencies. During
this period of increased demand calls of a non life-threatening
nature are likely to receive a longer response.

The NHS as a whole is also very busy and the Trust is working
closely with hospitals across its region to minimise delays when
patients are handed over at A&E. It is vital that patients are
handed over without delay so that ambulance crews are free to
respond to 999 calls out in the community.

SECAmb Paramedic and Regional Operations Manager James Pavey
said: “We plan ahead for periods of increased demand and we were
aware this weekend was going to be challenging. It’s an
understatement to simply say that staff and volunteers have risen
to this challenge. We know that they have gone the extra mile to
help patients. We’re extremely proud of their continued dedication
in the face of this increased demand.

“As we begin a new week, we’re continuing to experience high
levels of demand and we are focussing our efforts to responding to
our most seriously ill and injured patients. Non life-threatening
calls are unfortunately likely to receive a longer response.”

“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 NHS111 for help,
where staff can provide support and advice over the phone and refer
patient to out-of-hours services where appropriate.”

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