With the number of Christmas parties expected to peak this Friday the London Ambulance Service is calling on commuters not to drink too much alcohol before heading home.
Party season means an increase in demand on 999 services when revellers enjoy a little too much Christmas spirit at work parties and then struggle to find their way home safely.
The equivalent night last year saw the Service take 1,617 emergency calls between the hours of 8pm and 3am. But recent weeks have already surpassed that level and this Friday night is expected to be even busier – and comes after the Service experienced its busiest ever week.
In a bid to tackle the number of alcohol-related calls ambulance staff will be at a dedicated field hospital within Liverpool Street station to treat patients who are drunk or who have minor injuries or illnesses. The idea is to treat people at the station rather than take them to busy A&E departments.
On Friday 12 December the treatment centre dealt with 29 patients – its busiest shift ever.
Duty Station Officer Nick Lesslar said: “Over the past few weeks we have seen patients who have been too drunk to get the last train home, who have passed out on a platform or who have fallen and been injured whilst running for a train.
“We are not killjoys, but we are asking commuters to the City to take care of themselves and their friends, especially whilst socialising during the festive season.
“Attending to patients who are simply drunk means that our resources are not available for those people who really need them. The way to think about the impact of booze is this: your grandmother has collapsed with chest pains but there’s no response vehicle because our crew are dealing with someone who’s collapsed drunk in the street. That’s the reality.”
This year’s treatment centre at Liverpool Street is operating on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until Christmas to take care of Londoners and commuters who are feeling worse for wear. It’ll work alongside two patient transport vehicles and paramedics who will respond immediately to any 999 calls within a designated area of the City.
Nick said: “We want people to go out in London and have a good time but they should be responsible. Wrapping up warm and knowing your limits could be the difference between an easy trip home or a visit to our treatment centre.
“We’re asking people to make sure they plan their journey home in advance, to keep tabs on how much they’re drinking and to keep an eye on the time.”
In addition to the treatment centre, the alternative response vehicle – known as the ‘Booze Bus’ – is operating in central London. This vehicle, which has run successfully over the last couple of years, is crewed by three members of staff and can attend people who are drunk and take a group of patients to hospital in one trip, rather than sending multiple ambulances.
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Notes to editors
- For more information, please contact the communications department on 020 7921 5113.
- Pictures are available of the central London Booze Bus.
- From Monday 8 December – Sunday 14 December, we took a total of 31,833 calls across the seven days and attended 20,939 emergency incidents. An average week in 2006/07 saw the Service taking 26,724 calls and attending 18,188 incidents.