30 December 2009
Ambulance staff are
preparing for one of their busiest nights of the year as thousands
of revellers in the capital get ready to welcome 2010.
The London Ambulance Service always
experiences a huge rise in 999 calls on New Year’s Eve, but with
temperatures expected to fall in the coming days, an even bigger
surge in demand is anticipated.
Head of Emergency Preparedness John Pooley
said: “Our staff work hard to look after Londoners and we are
well-prepared for an increase in emergency calls on New Year’s
“However, with the cold weather expected to
return it’s important that people wrap up warm and plan their
journey home in advance if they’re out celebrating and drinking in
London. And I’d urge people to pace themselves and watch what they
“Alcohol-related calls put extra pressure on
the Service, so I’d ask people to be sensible. Every minute that we
spend looking after somebody who is simply drunk, is a minute that
could have been spent helping a patient who is seriously ill or
injured. We want people to enjoy themselves, but they should think
carefully before dialling 999. It should only be used for
To help deal with the massive increase in
demand on New Year’s Eve, the Service is running a number of
initiatives, particularly in relation to alcohol-related calls:
- Treatment centres – staff
will be at 12 treatment centres across the capital to look after
people who’ve had too much to drink, or who have minor illnesses or
injuries. The idea is to treat patients at these dedicated field
hospitals rather than taking them to busy A&E departments. The
Service will be running the centres in conjunction with staff from
St John Ambulance at sites including Waterloo and Charing Cross
train stations and Trafalgar Square.
- Medical response teams –
working in teams of three, up to 90 staff will be on foot in the
busy celebration hotspots around Trafalgar Square, Leicester
Square, the West End and the banks of the Thames. Assisted by staff
from St John Ambulance, these teams will be sent to calls by a
dedicated control room.
- ‘Booze buses’ – Four patient
transport vehicles or ‘booze buses’ will also be on patrol in the
capital to look after patients who are drunk, or who are suffering
from alcohol-related illnesses or injuries. They will help to free
up frontline ambulances for patients in a serious or
In addition to the efforts in central London,
staff in Croydon will be running several dedicated emergency
vehicles in the town centre to help deal with the extra demand. The
town’s walk-in centre will also be open to treat patients with
John said: “We are doing all that we can to
ensure our normal level of service is maintained throughout New
Year’s Eve but we would ask the public to help us by using their
ambulance service wisely.
“Dialling 999 just because you or a friend is
drunk is not appropriate. Our priority is to attend patients with
life-threatening or serious illnesses or injuries, the elderly and
patients with chronic conditions. People with minor illnesses or
injuries should think about using other healthcare options like NHS
Direct on 0845 46 47, or their local pharmacist or walk-in
“If people need to go to hospital for
non-emergency treatment, they should make their own way there.
Arriving by ambulance does not mean you will be seen any
There are also a number of things that people
can do to help themselves:
- Eat before drinking to help
soak up alcohol
- Have the odd soft drink to
keep yourself hydrated
- Try to keep track of what you’ve
And very importantly:
- Wrap up warm
- Plan your journey home.
Don’t leave it to chance – think about how you’re going to get
home, and who with, before you go out.
- Keep an eye on your friends
to make sure that no one gets left behind
– Ends –
Notes to editors
- The Service’s emergency operations centre takes an average of
120 calls an hour. Last year the Service took a total of 1,866
emergency calls between midnight and 4am on New Year’s Day, at a
rate of 467 per hour.
- New Year’s Eve 2008 was the second busiest night for the London
Ambulance Service after New Year’s Eve 1999 (2,233 calls between
midnight and 4am).
- For further information
about this news release please contact the communications
department on 020 7921 5113.
- Find out how we’re dealing with alcohol-related calls at
- Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ldn_ambulance