Norfolk & Suffolk: Black Friday

Ambulance crews are getting ready for what gets called 'black Friday'.

One of the year’s heaviest volume of 999 calls traditionally falls on the Friday of the last full weekend before Christmas due to a combination of cold weather and people drinking too much.

Last year Friday December 17 alone saw 2,121 calls to 999 - a 25% increase in calls on the Friday four weeks previously.

Alan Murray, Director of Service Delivery for EEAST, said: “A night out which ends up in A&E is not fun, but  one which is done without a risk to yourself where you end up getting home safe and sound is and it just requires being a little more conscious about drinking.

“Don’t drink on an empty stomach, include soft drinks and lots of water and plan your journey home. Pre-book a taxi if need be.

EEAST is putting on extra resources to cope with the increase in demand but is urging people not to call unnecessarily so they can get to the patients who really need their help.

Mr Murray said: "Please don’t call 999 unless it is an emergency so the patients who do really need us can be seen.”

Even without adverse weather conditions such as snow, use of the ambulance service rises significantly at this time of year.

Last weekend (December 9 to 11)EEAST’s three call centres handled 5,205 calls, nearly 300 more than the previous weekend and more than 200 over the amount the same weekend last year, when adverse weather had hit the region.

Associate Director of Emergency Operations Neil Storey said if the public ensured they kept well and kept safe, and knew when to call 999, everyone can benefit.

"A number of factors cause a rise in calls at this time of year - winter illnesses, those managing long-term conditions who fall ill, and of course people celebrating at Christmas and New Year. Please ensure your medication is stocked up, and that you're taking every precaution to avoid falling ill.

"But also parties and get togethers are a big feature of this time of year and while we are not against people having a good time, the public need to take responsibility for enjoying themselves safely.

"This might mean drinking alcohol responsibly - sadly some people still risk seriously injuring themselves or others through alcohol-related incidents, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, or excessive behaviour leading to assaults or accidents.”

East of England Ambulance

Gary Sanderson From East Of Ambulance Service