Snowfall sees surge in 999 calls

5 February 2012

The number of emergency calls to the London Ambulance Service rose sharply this morning following the snowfall across the capital – and could do so again tomorrow when roads and pavements are expected to be very icy.

Between midnight and noon today, staff in the control room handled over 2,500 emergency calls, an increase of more than 26 per cent on the same period last Sunday.

The hours between midnight and 4am were particularly busy, and with temperatures staying very low, Londoners are being urged to take care when out and about both today and tomorrow morning.
Snow and ice can lead to an increase in slips, trips and falls on slippery pavements, while the cold can also make existing conditions such as asthma worse.

Anyone who might need medical help but are not in a life-threatening emergency situation should as usual consider other options before dialling 999.

Performance Manager Paul Gates said: “We saw the usual range of late Saturday night incidents, such as those related to alcohol, but the call rate then stayed very high into the early hours.

“Our staff have been working very hard to manage this demand, and we will know that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the day.

“As ever, we are prioritising to respond to those patients with the most serious illnesses and injuries, and we’d urge people only to call 999 in a genuine emergency – that will help us to get to those who really need our help as quickly as we can.

“For more minor injuries and illnesses, people should think about other healthcare options, such as calling NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 for advice, or visiting a minor injuries unit or walk-in centre.

“Anyone who thinks that they need to go hospital for non-emergency treatment should also consider making their own way there – going in an ambulance does not mean that they will be seen any quicker.”

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