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21 December 2011, 05:00
As paramedics in the Thames Valley prepare for a busy Christmas period they're asking people to call only if it's a real emergency.
Last weekend they had 12-21 percent more calls than in November, mainly due to icy weather conditions.
There was an increase of more than 200 percent in road traffic accidents and nearly double the amount of people calling in with breathing problems.
Heart went along to the service's call centre for Berkshire, based in Wokingham.
Paul Mitchell, the emergency services manager for the county, told us they'd been expecting about 1,000 calls but got 1,800.
They were mainly for accidents and falls, but also for assaults. Lots of people could have been treated at their local walk-in centre or doctor's.
Paul says calling them out for minor injuries can have serious consequences.
"If somebody's had too much to drink and slipped over on the ice, (had a) minor injury - that's the time the ambulance isn't available to go to someone who's having a heart attack or a stroke."
Some of the calls they get at this time of year include people saying they can't get out the house to place a bet on a horse, can a paramedic pick up a prescription and their central heating is broken and needs fixing.
The service takes more than 1,000 calls a day in the 3 emergency centres, 300 of those are potentially life threatening. Each call-out costs £257 and 4 in 10 people they helped in 09/10 didn't have to go to hospital.
Here's some advice from the South Central Ambulance Service:
Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases
The flu virus is very prevalent at the moment please ensure that you take care of disposing
of your tissues and wash your hands properly! Ensure that if you are in the ‘at risk’ groups
you take advantage of getting your flu jab.
Many everyday illnesses can be easily treated at home.
Can you attend a local walk in centre, talk to your out of hours GP service, speak to a
pharmacist or speak to NHS Direct on www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or by telephoning 0845 46 47
Please enjoy the festive season but drink responsibly.
Accidents can happen when you are under the influence of alcohol, and although over
indulging is not a reason in itself to call for an ambulance, if you or a friend is injured as a
result and sustain serious injury or loose consciousness then phone 999 immediately
Please take care when walking or driving anywhere.
Due to the recent inclement weather, some areas are still incredibly icy! Please ensure that
you only go out if it is absolutely necessary. Roads and pavements continue to be icy so it
is important to leave more time for your journey. Properly de-ice your car and ensure that
you have all the necessary safety precautions and if you are walking wear safe shoes with
If you take prescription medication please make sure you have enough at home and with
you for the duration of the festive season