Busy weekend for ambulances

IT was dubbed Black Friday – a day when the Christmas spirit at work parties was expected to flow a little too freely and cause havoc for the emergency services.

IT was dubbed Black Friday - a day when the Christmas spirit at work parties was expected to flow a little too freely and cause havoc for the emergency services.

But it was more like sozzled Saturday in East Anglia, with the ambulance service responding to a massive 574 calls, more than 28 per cent and 128 calls up on the corresponding Saturday last year.

In Suffolk the number of calls was up by 32pc with 170 calls this Saturday compared to 128 calls on the same Saturday last year.

A combination of Friday night festivities running into Saturday morning and then starting all over again in the evening resulted in a day as busy, bar one call, as New Year's Day last year.


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So far the pattern has been similar throughout December, with 999 responses up 14pc on last year from 8,155 to 9,306 from December 1 to 19.

Paul Henry, acting director of operations, said staff were coping admirably with the unprecedented workload, with the critical eight-minute response to life-threatening calls still above the national target of 75pc.

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He said: "I can vividly remember all the planning which went into preparing for the expected large number of calls over the millennium celebrations, but that figure of 540 calls now looks almost routine compared to Saturday."

The busiest period was between 9pm on Friday night and 3am on Saturday, when the trust responded to more than 200 incidents.

In the Ipswich PCT area alone there were 40 calls on Friday, 38 on Saturday and 32 on Sunday.

Mr Henry said: "We are loathe to dissuade people from calling 999, but would urge people to remember that ambulances are for emergencies such as chest pains, serious loss of blood, major trauma injuries, deep wounds, breathing difficulties and head injuries."

Did you have to call an ambulance this weekend? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

See page 5 for how Ipswich tops the ambulance delay tables.

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