Ambulance bosses are appealing for people to use the emergency service wisely over the New Year.
New Year’s Eve is traditionally the busiest night of the year for the North East Ambulance Service.
Last year, it responded to more than 2,200 incidents on December 31 and January 1, 629 of which were between 6pm on New Year’s Eve and 6am on New Year’s Day.
Calling 999 for trivial incidents and minor conditions can potentially put those with life-threatening illnesses and injuries at risk by diverting ambulances elsewhere.
Lynn Pyburn, assistant operations centre manager, said: “New Year’s Eve tends to be fairly quiet on the run up to midnight and then it’s just like someone opens the doors and all the calls flood in.
“From midnight through until 6am we get a backlog of calls from people who have consumed a lot of alcohol.
“We get a lot of calls from people who have fallen but we also get a lot of patients who are unconscious through alcohol misuse, which can be very serious.
“If you’re celebrating, have a great time but please be aware of how much you’re drinking, eat beforehand, plan transport home, get well wrapped up and look after yourself and your friends. Everyone wants to get 2017 off to a great start, not spending the night in A&E!
“Lastly, remember that the 999 number should only be used in serious medical emergencies. An emergency isn’t running out of money at the end of the night and not having a way home. Nor is it a broken finger nail or a twisted ankle. Our valuable resources must be available for those who need them most. Your hangover shouldn’t cost somebody else’s life.”
Party-goers can enjoy the festivities and keep themselves safe by taking some of the following steps:
l Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for cold weather
l Eat a meal before heading out
l Stay hydrated – have a soft drink in between alcoholic drinks
l Don’t over indulge with the alcohol and keep your drink in sight at all times
l Stay together and look after each other
l Pre-book your taxi for getting home before you go out and keep some money spare to pay for it. Text each other so you know you’re all home safely
People who require treatment or advice for a minor illness or injury should consider other more appropriate healthcare services available to them such as self-care, pharmacists, GP surgeries, urgent care centres or NHS 111. Only call 999 when someone is in need of time-critical life-saving help.
For more information about NHS services available near you, visit NHS Choices at http://www.nhs.uk