Keep safe this New Year

West Midlands Ambulance Service has issued advice on safe enjoyment during the forthcoming onslaught.

West Midlands AmbulanceWest Midlands Ambulance Service is urging the public to make a New Year’s resolution to ensure that they use their ambulance service wisely during 2012. The Trust is gearing up for New Year’s Eve, traditionally the busiest night of the year, when call demand doubles.

Last year, the Trust was called 2,050 times in the nine hours between 8.00pm on New Year’s Eve and 5.00am on New Year’s Day.  This compares with an average of around 2,500 calls for a normal whole day.

Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer, Mark Gough, said: “While the vast majority of people in the region will be out celebrating, our staff will be working flat out. We will have dozens of additional staff working overnight, staffing additional ambulances and rapid response vehicles.

“In addition, we will be working with voluntary organisations including St. John Ambulance, the Red Cross and Community First Responders to run Temporary Minor Injury Units in Birmingham, Walsall and Shrewsbury to deal with revellers who have a mishap such as cuts, bumps, bruises and just being too drunk to keep themselves safe.

“The last thing we want to do is to stop people having a good time and welcoming in the New Year in fine style but our experience of previous celebrations means that we will be expecting to see many preventable injuries.

“Sadly, because our staff are dealing with these, they aren’t available to get to the truly life-threatening calls as quickly as they might, which ultimately puts the lives of other people at risk. Enjoy yourself but please don’t drink too much.”

As well as being busy, ambulance crews find themselves on the receiving end of anti-social behaviour from patients and the public who are often the worse for wear from drink or drugs.

Steve Elliker, West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Head of Security and Safety said: “Sadly, if this year is like the last few, we will have staff who will experience people shouting abuse at them; others will be kicked, punched or spat at by patients and their friends and family. We will press charges and work tirelessly to make people account for their despicable actions in the courts. Our staff are there to help people in their hour of need; please allow them to do so without fear or violence.

“Most people go out to have a good time with family and friends and to celebrate the New Year, so please treat our staff as you would want to be treated yourself.”

If you would like to keep up to date with advice and information about how the start of 2012 is going for West Midlands Ambulance Service, you can, for the first time, do so via social media as they will be updating Twitter and Facebook with a stream of information about incidents and advice which can help people get through the celebrations safely. These can be found @officialwmas

Medical Director, Dr Andy Carson, added: “After all the partying is over, many people will be suffering from a hangover. Unbelievably, every year we receive a number of 999 calls from people recovering from the night before.

“A hangover does not warrant a 999 call and people should self-treat at home by drinking as much water as you can before you go to sleep and during the next day.  Take paracetamol or another painkiller to treat your headache and antacid to settle your stomach.”