3 February 2012
‘Please use us wisely and only call 999 with
life-threatening emergencies’ – that’s the message from the London
Ambulance Service as snow is predicted to hit the capital this
Demand on the Service’s 999 control room is
expected to rise if the wintry forecast proves correct, as icy
roads and pavements are likely to lead to an increase in slips,
trips and falls. Cold weather can also make existing medical
conditions worse, like asthma.
When snow first hit London last winter, the
Service’s control room experienced an increase in demand of well
over 50 per cent. Control room staff usually take 200 calls an
hour, but at the busiest times dealt with well over 300 as
Londoners struggled in the conditions.
The weekend before Christmas a year ago staff
answered 1,215 calls from people who’d slipped or fallen in the
snow and ice, up 58 per cent on usual levels.
Almost all the Service’s fleet of ambulances
and response cars have been fitted with winter tyres since October,
and other contingency plans will also be put into place if
necessary to help get staff to work.
Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer John Pooley
said: “We are preparing as well we can for what might happen with
the weather, but we would also ask Londoners to help us by using
the 999 system wisely.
“Anyone with a genuine emergency should call
us immediately, but those with more minor injuries should consider
other healthcare options, such as calling NHS Direct on 0845 46 47
for advice, or going to a local pharmacist or NHS walk-in
“There are a number of common sense things
people can do to look after themselves so they don’t have to call
us. If you’re going out wrap up warm, make sure you’ve got a
well-stocked medicine cabinet at home and take extra care if you’re
driving or walking on slippery pavements.
“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 more quickly.”
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Notes to editors: