Voice of 999 urges revellers to celebrate safely this Christmas
The reassuring voices of 999 call handlers from London Ambulance Service are usually heard by people in life and death emergencies, but this Christmas they will ring out across all London train and tube stations to encourage millions to celebrate safely.
The festive season is traditionally a very busy period for the capital’s emergency services and transport networks, with Londoners travelling across the city to enjoy seasonal parties and attractions.
In an effort to reduce avoidable trips to hospital, London Ambulance Service 999 call handlers have specially recorded safety messages that will be broadcast across the Transport for London (TfL) network during the festive period.
People going out will be reminded to dress for the weather, eat before drinking alcohol, and plan their journeys so they can get home safely.
Natasha White, emergency call coordinator at London Ambulance Service, is one of the people to feature in the vital messages. She said: “I am proud to know that my voice will be heard by thousands of people at once, from London and beyond.
“The festive season is notoriously one of the busiest times of the year for us in the control room. As the number of calls we respond to starts ramping up, I hope this message can make a real difference and help free up resources for our sickest patients.”
Over the past five years, LAS has seen calls rise by 20% during the festive season – from around 5,000 to over 6,500 per day at times of highest pressure.
This year’s expected increase in demand comes as viral infections such as flu and other winter viruses are on the rise and Christmas and New Year celebrations return to pre-pandemic levels.
The safety messaging campaign, run in partnership with TfL, aims to prevent alcohol-related incidents. Last year, LAS medics were called to a total of 34,078 alcohol-related incidents, which could have been avoided.
On New Years’ Day 2023, alcohol-related incidents made up 7.5 per cent of all incidents attended to by London Ambulance Service, which is twice the normal daily average.
Dr Fenella Wrigley, Chief Medical Officer, said: “We hope Londoners can enjoy the festivities and make the most of the exciting events our capital city offers at this time of year.
“But we are expecting a rise in demand on our 999 and 111 services and have plans in place to increase our resources on the road and the number of our staff in our control rooms.
“The public can help us reach our most seriously ill and injured patients as quickly as we can by drinking responsibly and taking extra care when making their way home afterwards.
“I would like take this opportunity to send Londoners our warmest wishes ahead of the winter holidays. But please do take the advice of our expert staff, ensure you have had your Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations if you are eligible, and stay safe this festive season.”
LAS has prepared for winter ahead of time, with additional ambulances and response vehicles ready to hit the roads of London as well as extra control room staff on duty across the city. We also boosted the number of clinicians who can assess 999 patients to ensure they get the help they need.