Busy holiday weekend for 999 crews

WHILE most of us were putting our feet up or partying the night away over the bank holiday weekend the region's ambulance officers were rushed off their feet with emergency calls.

Grant Sherlock

WHILE most of us were putting our feet up or partying the night away over the bank holiday weekend the region's ambulance officers were rushed off their feet with emergency calls.

The East of England Ambulance Service today said that the combination of a bank holiday and most people's pay day had meant a busier than usual period for them.

Crews answered a higher than usual number of 999 calls on Friday and Saturday nights but it was Sunday night which created even more work than usual, with people taking advantage of having the opportunity of a lie-in yesterday.

Jason Gillingham, clinical field operations manager for the ambulance service, said: “Bank holiday weekends are always busy for us now but combined with people having their salaries paid going into the weekend makes it even busier.

“Sunday night of a bank holiday weekend is always as busy as the Friday and Saturday nights.

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“Also bank holidays are often associated with an increase in domestic violence as well. We see assaults and so forth increase.

“As a result, probably somewhere in the region of 60per cent of our total workforce would have worked this bank holiday weekend.

“They would have been putting in 12 hour shifts throughout the whole weekend.”

Mr Gillingham said the greatest concern for the ambulance service was what it refers to as the “night-time economy” - people over-indulging on alcohol, leading to rowdy behaviour on the streets.

He said that towns like Felixstowe also experienced a higher-than-normal rate of 999 calls as people visited the towns over the long-weekend.

The ambulance service is facing a seven to eight per cent increase in demand for its services each year, and Mr Gillingham said August would be on track to match that increase.

Added to the bank holiday frivolities leading to an increased workload for the ambulance crews, the service also had to cope with a busy Saturday afternoon at Portman Road as they dealt with an injury to Wolverhampton Wanderers left back George Elokobi who was stretchered off during the Ipswich Town versus Wolverhampton game and two fans in the stands who collapsed and had to be taken to hospital. Their conditions were not thought to have been life threatening.

And despite having got through this bank holiday weekend, the crews are looking toward another busy weekend as those who didn't get their pay cheques in time for last weekend will be celebrating their flushed bank accounts in a few days time, Mr Gillingham said.

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