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December 2020

'Make the right call' this winter

4 December 2020

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging people to ‘Make the right call’ this winter by only calling 999 for life-threatening emergencies.

The Trust is expecting a significant increase in 999 calls over the Christmas period and beyond, due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic alongside normal winter pressures.

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It expects to deal with almost 3,000 incidents a day during the next month, an increase of around 20 per cent compared to normal, with demand expected to be highest at weekends and on bank holidays. 

SWASFT is ensuring it has the right resources in place to manage additional pressure, but is warning people that unnecessary calls could delay responses to those most in need of emergency help.

Will Warrender, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: “Our people have been working exceptionally hard throughout this year to continue delivering the right care for our patients, and to keep people safe.

“We expect to be very busy throughout the festive period and beyond, and are making sure we have appropriate resources in place to continue responding to patients safely and effectively.

“We will always be there for those who need us, but we must ensure we can reach and treat those with the most life-threatening injuries and illnesses first.

“So I would urge people to ‘Make the right call’ this winter.

“If you’re seriously injured or ill and are in a life-threatening condition, 999 is the right number to call. But in other cases when urgent help is required, do contact NHS 111, and they will be able to assist you.”

People should call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. For example: if someone has stopped breathing, has severe chest pain, is choking, may be having a stroke, has serious blood loss, or is unconscious.

People who have an urgent medical problem and aren’t sure what to do should contact NHS 111.

Specialist Paramedic Paul Kimberley has recorded a message to explain the various available NHS healthcare options and why it’s vital to think before calling 999.

Notes:

  1. To follow the ‘Make the right call’ campaign, visit our Twitter and Facebook pages.
  2. The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Anyone with any of these symptoms should get a test as soon as possible, and stay at home until they get the result.

When NOT to call 999 this Christmas

14 December 2020

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is warning that misuse of its 999 service is putting people’s lives at risk.

It has revealed a selection of inappropriate emergency calls made recently to its control room to show examples of the wrong reasons people have called 999.

A woman reported finding a motionless body that turned out to be an abandoned beanbag.

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She spotted what she thought was a person curled up in a sleeping bag beside a bin, but declined to verify what it was due to social distancing concerns.

The woman then left the scene and dialled the emergency number, saying she was “concerned for their welfare”.

A paramedic was sent to the incident, only to discover the discarded cushion instead of a patient on the street.

A man also called for an ambulance because he was worried he had caught a sexually transmitted infection from a kissing a woman.

Other calls were made because:

  1. A man wanted bandaging for an ingrown toenail.
  2. A man’s central heating wasn’t working and he was cold.
  3. A caller was concerned a woman would overheat because she couldn’t take her coat off.

Hundreds of 999 calls are made to SWASFT every day involving patients who do not have serious or life-threatening conditions.

A SWASFT spokesperson said: “Our 999 service should only be used when someone is seriously injured or ill, and their life is at risk.

“Inappropriate calls are a waste of our time, put additional pressure on our limited resources, and may mean we cannot reach those who are most in need of our help.

“Please ‘Make the right call’ this winter. If you someone is unconscious, not breathing, or has serious bleeding, 999 is the right number to call.

“But if you call for an ambulance when you don’t really need one, you are misusing the 999 service and may well be delaying our emergency care to others.”

The Trust dealt with 19,108 incidents last week, an increase of around 200 incidents a day compared to normal, and is expecting demand to remain high throughout the next few weeks.

Notes: 

  1. The audio clips above are edited versions of three of the 999 calls mentioned above. The voices of those involved have been altered.
  2. To follow our ‘Make the right call’ campaign, visit our Twitter and Facebook
  3. People should call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. For example: if someone has stopped breathing, has severe chest pain, is choking, may be having a stroke, has serious blood loss, or is unconscious.
  4. People who have an urgent medical problem and aren’t sure what to do should contact NHS 111.
  5. The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Anyone with any of these symptoms should get a test as soon as possible, and stay at home until they get the result.

When you should call 999 this Christmas

23 December 2020

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is reminding people only to call 999 in a genuine life-threatening emergency this Christmas.

The trust is anticipating a high demand for the 999 service over the festive period, due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic alongside normal winter pressures.

It has dealt with around 2,650 calls a day so far this month, and expects the final nine days to be among its busiest of the year.

SWASFT has revealed another selection of inappropriate emergency calls made to its control room recently:

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  • A man asked what coronavirus is.
  • A man was blocked-in by an ambulance attending an emergency call.
  • A man wished ambulance staff ‘Merry Christmas’.
  • A man asked if his local A&E department was open.
  • A man had lost his wife in town, and wanted to know if she was in an ambulance that had just driven past him.

Misuse of the 999 service puts unnecessary additional pressures on limited ambulance resources, and can delay emergency care to those most in need.

More than half of 999 calls made to SWASFT are closed without the patient needing to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.

Around a third of patients are treated and discharged by ambulance crews at the scene, and others are given clinical advice over the phone.

999 call handler Ella said: “People might imagine that all the calls we receive are for very ill patients, such as those who are unconscious, not breathing or bleeding heavily.

“But we get calls every day that simply aren’t 999 appropriate. The patients do normally need medical help, but they should have contacted 111, their GP surgery or local pharmacy rather than the ambulance service.

“We want everyone to be able to get the right help, but that’s not always an ambulance.

“If you’re trying to decide whether or not to call 999, think ‘if there was no such thing as an ambulance, would you rush the person straight to hospital?’

“The worst scenario would be if someone who really needs our help isn’t able to get through to us.”

Specialist Paramedic Stephen said: “Many people ask me if it’s exciting driving to emergency calls using flashing blue lights. But in reality it’s extremely anxiety provoking and carries an element of risk, even though we’re highly trained in emergency driving.

“Imagine how it feels to arrive at a call to discover it’s not an emergency, and other options could have been taken rather than ringing 999 for an ambulance.

“Please make the right call, and only dial 999 in a genuine life-threatening emergency.”

People should call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. For example: if someone has stopped breathing, has severe chest pain, is choking, may be having a stroke, has serious blood loss, or is unconscious.

People who have an urgent medical problem and aren’t sure what to do should contact NHS 111.

Notes:

  1. The audio clips are edited versions of three of the 999 calls mentioned above. The voices of those involved have been altered.
  2. To follow our ‘Make the right call’ campaign, visit our Twitter and Facebook pages.
  3. The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Anyone with any of these symptoms should get a test as soon as possible, and stay at home until they get the result.

'Stay safe this New Year' says ambulance service

31 December 2020

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is asking people to welcome the start of 2021 safely, and not make unnecessary 999 calls.

The NHS is experiencing high demand for its services, due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic alongside normal winter pressures.

SWASFT dealt with around 2,600 incidents a day between 19 and 28 December, and is expecting a busy New Year. 

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It is asking people only to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency, and to contact NHS 111 for less serious medical problems.  

Parts of the South West have escalated to the toughest Tier 4 of coronavirus restrictions, and the remaining areas are in Tier 3 except the Isles of Scilly.

A SWASFT spokesperson said: “We encourage everyone to stay safe, abide by the tier restrictions for their local area, and only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency.

“It is vital that we don’t receive unnecessary calls, so that we and our NHS colleagues can prioritise those most in need.

“If you want to call for an ambulance, think - ‘is it a life-threatening emergency?’ Please make the right call.”

Misuse of the 999 service puts unnecessary additional pressures on limited ambulance resources, and can delay emergency care to those most in need.

More than half of 999 calls made to SWASFT are closed without the patient needing to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.

Around a third of patients are treated and discharged by ambulance crews at the scene, and others are given clinical advice over the phone.

999 call handler Ella said: “If you’re trying to decide whether or not to call 999, ask yourself - ‘would I drive this person to A&E immediately, or could they wait to be seen?

“Many people can be treated by NHS 111 or their local GP rather than needing to call 999.

“Please make the right call, and only dial 999 for life-threatening emergencies.”

People should call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. For example: if someone has stopped breathing, has severe chest pain, is choking, may be having a stroke, has serious blood loss, or is unconscious.

People who have an urgent medical problem and aren’t sure what to do should contact NHS 111.

The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Anyone with any of these symptoms should get a test as soon as possible, and stay at home until they get the result.

South Western Ambulance Charity logo

South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/SWASC.