Paramedics plea after 999 surge

AMBULANCE chiefs have urged people to think before dialling 999 after figures showed a massive increase in emergency calls over the bank holiday weekend.

AMBULANCE chiefs have urged people to think before dialling 999 after figures showed a massive increase in emergency calls over the bank holiday weekend.

Record temperatures on Friday sparked a flood of calls to the central control room at Essex Ambulance Service with the only day busier this year being January 1.

Ambulance service chief executive Anthony Marsh said that while he was proud at the way his crews had worked during the four-day weekend, he was concerned that not all calls had been real emergencies.

In the past, people have called up for help plumping up pillows or advice on putting Pot Noodles in the microwave.


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Although no similarly bizarre mercy calls were received last weekend, some were a relative waste of time and therefore a risk to others' lives, a service spokesman said.

On average over the four days, the service answered 87 calls a day more - and went to 60 incidents a day more - than it did on the same Spring Bank Holiday in 2004.

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On Friday, when the heat attracted people outside, the service received 736 calls for 627 incidents, of which about one in five related to falls and accidents.

On Saturday the service handled 739 calls - compared to 885 on New Year's Day - and the number dropped to 670 and 655 on Sunday and Monday respectively.

Mr Marsh praised both his crews and control room staff, but added: "Having looked at these figures I must once again urge people to consider whether they actually need to call 999 before doing so.

"The continued large rise in incidents is a very real cause for concern. We need the people of Essex to play their part in tackling the issue.

"In a real emergency, do not hesitate to call 999, but in other cases, please think whether you really need an ambulance.

"Every inappropriate call we receive diverts an ambulance or paramedic vehicle away from people who desperately need our help and may put other lives at risk."

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