Surge in calls to paramedics over New Year

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AMBULANCE crews saw a surge of callouts on New Year’s Eve across 1066 Country this year, compared to last year.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) dealt with 62 calls in Hastings and Rother between 10pm on Monday and 4am on New Year’s Day. Over the same period at the end of 2011 the total was only 44.

Across the south east paramedics handled in excess of four calls a minute. In total 1,544 calls were taken over the six-hour period, an increase of more than 20 per cent on last year.

The top reasons for people calling SECAmb on New Year’s Eve were to report assaults, falls, breathing problems, trauma and mental health issues.

Ambulance trust managers had warned of an expected rise in demand prior to the New Year’s Eve celebrations and urged people to use the service wisely.

SECAmb laid on extra staff on standby for New Year’s Eve after figures for late December and the Christmas period also showed an increase in demand compared with 2011.

Paul Sutton, SECAmb chief executive, said: “Christmas and New Year’s Eve is always a very challenging time of year for the ambulance service and this year was particularly busy for all our staff and volunteers.

“Every year we have robust plans in place to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver a safe, timely and quality service to our patients, despite the fact that we receive a significant increase in calls.

“Every year we receive a significant number of calls for which an ambulance isn’t necessarily the most appropriate response. Our emergency medical advisors and clinicians in our emergency operations centres are able to provide expert help and advice and also direct callers to a more appropriate service for their needs.

“I’d like to personally thank everyone for their efforts, hard work and commitment this festive period and throughout the whole of 2012.”