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

Staff will be working extremely hard to ensure patients receive
the help they require but the Trust is also urging people to
prepare themselves in order to minimise their risk of requiring the
help of the ambulance service.

The Trust is reminding people to act now to pick up any required
repeat prescriptions by contacting their GP surgery ahead of the
weekend. People are also being urged to keep an eye on any elderly
or vulnerable family, friends or neighbours and to check their
medicine cabinets are stocked with useful and in-date

The public are reminded that people should only call 999 in the
event of a serious emergency.

Last year SECAmb received well in excess of 10,000 999 calls
between Good Friday and Easter Monday and sent a response to more
than 8,500 incidents.

People are reminded that by dialing 111 – the NHS non-emergency
number – that they can get advice, have symptoms assessed and be
directed to the most appropriate medical care.

SECAmb runs the NHS 111 service across it’s region, (excluding
East Kent), in partnership with Care UK. The service is preparing
for high demand and is expecting to handle well in excess of 20,000
calls across the four-day weekend.

SECAmb Head of Resilience & Specialist Operations Andy
Cashman said: “As ever, we’re expecting a very busy weekend and we
know all our staff will rise to the challenge of this increase in
demand. But we’re urging people to help us by only dialling 999 in
the event of a serious emergency. As always we will be prioritising
life-threatening calls so a call triaged as being a lower priority
is 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 to consider
the other options available to them including calling NHS 111 where
staff can provide support and advice over the phone and refer
patients 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.

“We’re also strongly recommending people ensure they have
arranged to collect any necessary repeat prescriptions for
themselves or others and ensure their medicine cabinets are in
stock and in date.”

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