Paramedics were put on red alert as they struggled to meet demand on New Years Eve – the busiest night of the year for emergency services up and down the country.
East Midlands Ambulance Service imposed a ‘Business Continuity Incident’ in response to the high number of calls to ensure they could reach people in potentially life-threatening condition.
Paramedics received 1153 in the first nine hours of January 1, and 2,730 by 9pm – close to double their average daily callouts. Calls were varied with a number of alcohol related illness or injury, falls, breathing problems and road traffic collisions. Temporary treatment centres were opened to handle the crisis
The service said: “Declaring the incident meant that we could put into place additional actions to help provide extra support and improve services. One of the actions included reducing staff meal-break times from 45 minutes to 20 minutes for the duration of the incident. This allowed us to have more colleagues and vehicles available during the unprecedented circumstances.
“The actions taken did alleviate the pressure and at 9pm the Incident was de-escalated. We are sorry for the delays experienced by some of our patients, and that we were not able to provide the service that we endeavour to.
A bebrief is taking place to review the service’s response to the high demand.
John Wright of the EMAS strategic command cell said: “New Year’s Eve has been busy as expected however we have managed the activity well. I send my personal thanks for all our colleagues and volunteers hard work and wish them all a Happy New Year.”
Chief Executive Richard Henderson added: “Thank you to our colleagues and volunteers for all their continued efforts in delivering the best possible patient care over the festive period and throughout the whole year - it is greatly appreciated.”
People are reminded to use emergency service wisely and visit www.nhs.uk for details of health services that can offer advice and treatment if the illness or injury needs treatment but not as an emergency.