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London’s ambulance workers prepare for busiest night of the year

New Year’s Eve is expected to be an exceptionally busy night and the London Ambulance Service is asking revellers to drink sensibly and only call for an ambulance in a genuine emergency.

At peak times last year the Service was taking over 600 calls an hour when normally it would only take around 250. Ambulance staff member by London Eye on New Year's Eve

Deputy Director of Operations Kevin Brown, who is leading the Service’s response on New Year’s Eve, said: “It will be an extremely busy night for us across the capital with our call takers answering hundreds more emergency calls than usual and our medics out in teams on the streets, working with colleagues from St John Ambulance, to help those at the central London celebrations.”

The Service is running three alcohol recovery centres and five booze buses across London to look after people who have had too much to drink.

To help respond to anyone who becomes unwell or injured in the event area, we are working with St John Ambulance volunteers to run 11 treatment centres. Medics in the event area will work in teams of three with St John Ambulance volunteers on foot, carrying full medical equipment with them, including a defibrillator, oxygen and a carry sheet to use as a stretcher. They will be able to weave in and out of the crowds where it is too busy to take an ambulance.

Katherine Eaton, Events Manager for London St John Ambulance, said: “If you need medical help make your way, if you can, to one of our treatment centres. In an emergency ask for help – or get a friend or passer-by to do it for you – from a steward, security official, first aid volunteer or police officer. Only dial for an ambulance as a last resort.”

Kevin added: “Many of the people we’re called to on New Year’s Eve have injured themselves or become unwell because they’ve had too much to drink. This puts additional strain on us and means our ambulances may not be available for those in life-threatening conditions.

“Our New Year’s message to Londoners is enjoy the celebrations but please think before calling for an ambulance and where possible consider using other services such as calling NHS 111, using a pharmacy, or walk-in centre.”

How you can have a safe night out

  • Eat before drinking: food soaks up alcohol, slowing it down on its way into the bloodstream. It will provide more energy, and lessen the effects the next day.
  • Drink lighter beers: stronger continental beers are popular, but make for a messy night and a bigger hangover. The difference between a pint of 5% lager, and a 3.5% or 4% one is one unit.
  • Set a drinks limit: plan what to drink in an evening and stick to it.
  • Have a strategic soft drink: this keeps the body hydrated, and will lessen the effects the next day.
  • Avoid drinking in rounds: this can often mean drinking at a faster pace set by another one of the group.
  • Be your own person: nobody should feel as though they should have to drink something if they don’t want to, and real friends should respect each others’ wishes.
  • Keep track of what you’ve had: it is hard to say ‘That’s my limit tonight’ if you don’t know how much you’ve had.
  • Use more mixers: diluting a drink with another mixer will make it last longer, and lessen the effects.
  • Drink smaller drinks: A large glass of wine in most bars is equivalent to a third of a bottle.
  • 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. Make arrangements before you start drinking, and make sure you don’t get left to walk home alone.


Notes to editors

  • For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7783 2286.
  • Pictures of our medics responding on previous New Year’s Eve are available by emailing [email protected]or calling 020 7783 2286.
  • For live updates from London Ambulance Service on New Year’s Eve please follow us on Twitter at or use #LondonNYE.
  • A booze bus can carry up to three patients at a time helping to free up frontline ambulances to respond to patients with life-threatening injuries.

Locations of the 11 St John treatment centres:

  • Whitehall Court
  • Westminster Abbey – The Sanctuary
  • Wardour Street
  • Embankment Station
  • St Martin in the Fields
  • The Mall Concert Hall Approach
  • Waterloo Station
  • Belvedere Road
  • Temple Place
  • Savoy Place