Record number of 999 calls

AMBULANCE staff across East Anglia are coping with record numbers of 999 calls, as patients suffer in the heatwave.As the mercury rose throughout the first part of this month , so did emergency calls, with volume so far up more than 18 per cent on last August.

AMBULANCE staff across East Anglia are coping with record numbers of 999 calls, as patients suffer in the heatwave.

As the mercury rose throughout the first part of this month , so did emergency calls, with volume so far up more than 18 per cent on last August.

Up to yesterday , crews had responded to 5,430 emergency calls, compared with 4,572 for the same period last year.

It means the East Anglian Ambulance Service is on course a second successive month of record calls, after July's high of 13,573.


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But response times are holding up above the national target of reaching at least 75 per cent of Category A (life-threatening) calls within eight minutes.

In July the figure was 75pc, and so far in August it is 75pc, up from 68pc for the same period last year despite the lower number of calls at the time.

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Paul Sutton, director of operations, said some of the extra calls had been as a direct result of the heat, with the incidences of collapses, shortness of breath and heatstroke higher than normal.

There has also been a large increase in the numbers of tourists visiting Norfolk and Suffolk's coastal resorts, swelling the population and therefore increasing the potential for calls.

Officials also believe patients are, in some cases, bypassing their GPs and calling direct for an ambulance.

Mr Sutton added: "All of these factors are behind an ever increasing volume of 999 calls, and therefore an ever increasing amount of work for our staff.

"Whether it's extreme heat, icy cold or blowing a gale, they are out there trying to do their best and it's a tremendous credit to them that the service's performance hasn't dipped at this, our busiest time ever."

Craig Cooke, manager of the emergency control centre, said call-takers and dispatchers had never seen anything like the past few weeks.

"It's obviously been extremely busy and we've been going from one call to the next, trying to keep everyone calm, which is no easy task in this heat," he added.

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