More than 3,400 calls were received by South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) on Saturday as the region experienced high temperatures and fans celebrated England’s quarter-final victory against Sweden.
This was one of its busiest weekends since New Year’s Eve and was close to 350 more calls than the previous Saturday (June 30) when demand was already higher than normal.
We’re asking people to spare a thought for the ambulance service and act sensibly
Ambulance crews responded to more than 150 more calls over the same period.
Now (SECAmb) is urging people to do as #GarethSouthgateWould and make sure the ambulance service is reserved for those who really need it.
The Trust is asking people to stay safe in the sun and avoid scoring an own goal by supporting England responsibly when they face Croatia in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening (July 11).
SECAmb is urging supporters to enjoy the football but plan ahead, look out for others, not drink alcohol to excess and act responsibly.
By sticking to this advice people can help ensure staff in the Trust’s Emergency Operations Centres and ambulance crews and volunteers out on the road are able to respond to patients as quickly as possible.
Advice on how the public can help support the ambulance service can be found below.
SECAmb Regional Operations Manager James Pavey said: “We knew the weekend was going to be busy and we did all we could to prepare for the additional demand. All our staff and volunteers were working extremely hard to get patients the care they need. We know that Wednesday is also going to be challenging and that we’re going to face higher demand than normal as the high temperatures continue.
“We’re asking people to spare a thought for the ambulance service and act sensibly. By planning ahead, not drinking alcohol to excess and keeping an eye out for others, people can avoid scoring an own goal and ending up in the care of the ambulance service.
“While the warmer weather is welcomed by most, it brings with it a likely increase in certain calls for us. Calls relating to sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke typically increase. High temperatures can also seriously affect the very young and elderly people as well as people with long-term conditions such as heart conditions or high blood pressure. We’re urging these people to be equally cautious.”
World Cup wish list
· If drinking alcohol – enjoy yourself, have fun but be sensible.
· Look out for others you’re with and drink water between alcoholic drinks
· Plan ahead – where are you watching the game and will you get in?
· Remember 999 is for emergencies
· Excess alcohol consumption on its own isn’t usually a reason to dial 999 for someone but if there’s another complaint causing concern or someone loses consciousness then dial 999 without delay
· If it’s not an emergency and you need health advice then you can call NHS 111, make an appointment with your GP or visit your pharmacist
People can also help themselves, SECAmb and the wider NHS by following some simple advice to stay safe in the sun.
SECAmb tips for staying safe and cool in the sun
· Stay in the shade or indoors. The sun is at its most dangerous between 11am and 3pm. Find shade under umbrellas, trees or canopies. It is worth remembering that the temperature is at least a couple of degrees cooler if you are by water.
· Use sunscreen and cover up. If you can’t avoid being out in the sun apply sunscreen (factor 15+) and wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses.
· Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and diluted fruit juice. Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine (tea, coffee and cola) or drinks high in sugar.
· Keep your home cool. Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside. Open them when the temperature inside rises, and at night for ventilation.
· Look after the elderly. Older people are more prone to the effects of heat. If you have older relatives or neighbours you can help simply by checking on them and reminding them to drink plenty and often. Also help them to keep their house as cool as possible, using a fan if necessary.
· Protect children. Keep a close eye on young children, who need plenty of fluids. A good way to check if they are drinking enough is that they are passing urine regularly and that it is not too dark. You should check nappies regularly. Babies and the very young must be kept out of the sun.
· Avoid excessive physical exertion. If you are taking physical exercise you need to drink half a litre of fluid at least half an hour beforehand and continue to replenish your fluids after exercising.
· Know the perils of outdoor eating. Warm summer weather is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria so it is especially important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until you are ready to eat them. When barbecuing always make sure you cook meat until it is piping hot, none of it is pink and all juices run clear.
· Be sensible with alcohol. Hot weather speeds up the effects of alcohol so extra care should be taken when drinking. Alcohol will lead to dehydration so make sure that you alternate alcoholic drinks with water or fruit juice.
· Keep cool at work. The office is often the coolest place to be in a heat wave. Ask your boss for air-conditioning or fans and open windows where possible. Keep windows shaded with blinds and if possible move your working position out of direct sunlight. Have plenty of breaks during the day to get cold drinks and cool down.
Remember, heat stroke can kill. It can develop very suddenly and rapidly lead to unconsciousness. If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke call 999 immediately.
While waiting for the ambulance you should follow the instructions given to you by the ambulance call taker.
The following can also help someone suffering from heat stroke:
· If possible, move the person somewhere cooler.
· Increase ventilation by opening windows or using a fan.
· Cool the patient down as quickly as possible by loosening their clothes, sprinkling them with cold water or wrapping them in a damp sheet
· If they are conscious, give them water or fruit juice to drink
· Do not give them aspirin or paracetamol.
If you need medical advice or treatment you can also talk to a pharmacist, call NHS 111, visit your GP surgery or Minor Injury Unit.
When to call 999:
If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:
- heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)
- sudden unexplained shortness of breath
- heavy bleeding
- unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)
- traumatic back/spinal/neck pain
You should also call for an ambulance if:
- you think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening
- you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital
- moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury
- the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel