Alcohol Fuels Festive 999 Surge

 Thursday 18 December 2014

Ambulance crews across Scotland are bracing themselves for an increase in 999 incidents over the festive period, many of which will be driven by excessive alcohol consumption.

Last year in the 20 days between 13 December - 1 January the Scottish Ambulance Service dealt with almost 32,000 emergency incidents, an increase of around 4,000 - or an extra 200 calls a day - compared to normal demand.

As Christmas and Hogmanay parties get into full swing, ambulance cover will be increased by up to 20% at peak periods to deal with the surge in emergency calls.

As well as fuelling more emergency calls, alcohol is behind most of the assaults and abusive behaviour that ambulance teams have to endure.  The safety of ambulance staff is paramount and any assault or threatening behaviour will be reported to the police. If ambulance crews feel that their safety may be compromised, they are instructed to hold near the scene and wait for support from colleagues or the police, rather than put themselves at risk.

Health Secretary, Shona Robison, said:
“Our ambulance crews work incredibly hard to provide the best patient care 365 days a year, and this work does not stop at Christmas. While others are enjoying their nights out over the festive period, the emergency services are continuing to work around the clock to respond to 999 calls through all conditions and weather.

“We all have a duty to ensure we are using our public services responsibly and keeping them free for those who really need them. So, while I hope everyone across Scotland thoroughly enjoys the Christmas and New Year festivities, I’d ask people to take on board the advice of the Scottish Ambulance Service and ensure they drink responsibly, keep safe and do not cause any unnecessary burden for our ambulance crews.”

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:
“The festive period is the busiest and most challenging time of year for our staff. They deserve recognition and respect for their dedication to serving their communities and dealing with the many alcohol related cases that are a result of people over indulging at parties and in pubs across Scotland.

“As they enjoy festive parties, we would ask people to drink sensibly and wrap up well for the weather. This will help us to ensure that ambulances are dispatched to those people who are in most need of our help.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service responds to the most serious life threatening cases in an average of 6.5 minutes.