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Extra ambulance crews on duty as Service braces itself for ‘mad Friday’

Ambulance crews and control room staff are expecting to respond to 43 per cent more alcohol related incidents this Friday (15 December) on what is expected to be one of the busiest party nights of the year.

While office staff finish work early and head out for Christmas celebrations – extra ambulance crews and control room staff will be signing on for duty to manage the expected surge in demand.

On the same Friday night last year, they responded to nearly 300 alcohol related incidents compared to 191 on an average Friday during the rest of the year. And they responded to 826 alcohol related incidents over the three day weekend.

Deputy Director of Operations, Kevin Bate, said: “Every ambulance crew who responds to someone who has had too much to drink, is an ambulance crew not responding to another ill or injured person who needs us.

“We want people to have a good time this weekend but to also take responsibility for themselves and their friends and not get so drunk that they become ill or injured and need our help.”

At its peak, this weekend, the Service could be responding to 40 alcohol related calls in just one hour. But London’s emergency departments are also expecting to be busy.

Dr Katherine Henderson, clinical lead in the emergency department at St Thomas’ Hospital, said: “We’ve all seen the headlines: The emergency services are under pressure, particularly during the winter, so we’re appealing to party-goers to take care of themselves – and their friends – to avoid a visit to our emergency department.

“We need to make sure that our services are focused on genuine medical emergencies to ensure that seriously ill patients can get the help they need.”

Kevin said: “Party goers should eat a meal before they go out this weekend, to look after their friends and make sure they get home safely. Responding to patients who are ill or injured after drinking too much can also delay treatment to other people who need help.”

People who are unconscious after drinking too much may also be prioritised before other patients.

Kevin added: “Patients reported to be collapsed and unconscious trigger the fastest ambulance response. It’s not possible to tell over the phone whether they have a serious illness or injury, or have simply had too much to drink, so we have to prioritise them immediately.”

Katherine added: “We want people to have a good time on a night out, but we ask that they drink responsibly. Nobody wants to end up in A&E vomiting, injured or unconscious, so please take care of yourselves and your friends so we don’t have to.”

Top tips for a safe night out:

  • Eat before drinking: Make sure you eat before you go out or start your night somewhere that serves meals or snacks. It’ll provide more energy, and lessen your hangover the next day.
  • Try pacing and spacing: Having a soft drink or some water between alcohol drinks slows the rate of your drinking.
  • Drink smaller drinks: A large glass of wine in most bars is equivalent to a third of a bottle!
  • Keep a check on how much you’re drinking: The ‘One You Drinks Tracker’ will help you keep track of how much you are drinking and spending.
  • Look after each other: Look after your friends and colleagues and make sure you know how you are getting home at the end of the night
  • 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 more information or to discuss broadcast facilities, please call the communications team on 020 7783 2286.
  • The Service plans to have an extra 30 ambulance crews on duty during peak times this weekend.
  • On Friday 16 December 2016, the Service responded to 273 alcohol related incidents.
  • On Saturday 17 December 2016, the Service responded to 297 alcohol related incidents.
  • On Sunday 18 December 2016, the Service responded to 256 alcohol related incidents.
  • In total over this weekend in 2016, London Ambulance Service responded to 826 alcohol related incidents.
  • The busiest hour for alcohol related incidents in December 2016 was between 11pm and midnight on 31 December when the Service responded to 42 alcohol related incidents.
  • The second busiest hour in December 2016 was between 1am and 2am on Sunday 18 December.