Health services battle through snow

SUFFOLK'S health service worked at full capacity to cope with the treacherous conditions brought on by the snow. The East Anglian Ambulance Trust (EAAT) was on major incident alert for 24 hours and called upon the help of voluntary services to cope with emergency call-outs.

SUFFOLK'S health service worked at full capacity to cope with the treacherous conditions brought on by the snow.

The East Anglian Ambulance Trust (EAAT) was on major incident alert for 24 hours and called upon the help of voluntary services to cope with emergency call-outs.

Ipswich Hospital was also extremely busy but staff managed to battle through the snow and ice to get to work and cope with the influx of accident and emergency patients.

A spokeswoman for the EAAT said: "We are having no problems whatsoever.


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"We have a bigger fleet than normal although on Friday we did have problems getting through to places."

The EAAT were supported by voluntary services such as 4 x 4 clubs who transported paramedics having difficulties getting into work.

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Volunteers in off-roaders also helped getting aid to patients.

"We all worked together with the voluntary services," said the spokeswoman.

"On Saturday morning we were probably in a better position than we have been in the last couple of days."

Snow drifts caused problems on Friday with motorists stuck for 13 hours on a road just outside Haverhill.

All doctors were informed of the major emergency alert and help was drafted in from Red Cross and St John Ambulance voluntary services.

In some cases people who would have gone to hospital stayed at home where they received help.

"We didn't want patients to get half way to hospital to find them stuck in a snowdrift," said the spokeswoman.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance was also available, as usual, to go to emergency call-outs.

The spokeswoman added that the fire strike affected the ambulance service because more resources were deployed to incidents than usual.

Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said that staff had been extremely busy over the last few days because of the snowfall but she said that they coped well.

There are 3,700 members of staff working at the hospital and many of them battled with poor driving conditions to get to work.

"An awful lot of people were magnificent in their efforts to get in," said Ms Rowsell.

"When the weather is severe the roads are icy, we do see a big increase in the people who need our treatment and care.

"Generally there are more colds and infections around, if you're vulnerable then you're likely to need some specialist help, we are a very busy hospital all the time, we coped extremely well under the immense pressure."

Respiratory problems were the most common ailments but there were injuries including broken ankles and one man had to be air lifted to hospital on Saturday morning after he fell off his sledge in Christchurch Park, Ipswich.

A 4x4 vehicle was sent out when an ambulance was unable to get through, then a helicopter was scrambled and the patient, who had a back injury, was taken to Ipswich Hospital.

A total of 44 gritters had also been out on the roads to create safer driving conditions for motorists.

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