Service Prepared for Festive Surge

 Thursday 3 December 2015

Ambulance teams across Scotland are geared up to respond to a surge in emergency incidents over the festive season as part of its extensive winter preparations.

Last year in the three weeks between 12 December and 1 January the Scottish Ambulance Service dealt with over 35,600 emergency incidents, an increase of around 3,500 - or an extra 165 incidents a day - compared to normal demand.

Resources will be increased to respond to rises in emergency demand of up to 20% during peak periods as Christmas and Hogmanay parties get into full swing.

Investment of £900,000 in additional vehicles and staff to manage GP referrals, will free up more emergency ambulance teams to respond to 999 calls.

Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officers will be introduced this winter to support patient flows into hospitals, to enable enhanced discharge management and improve turnaround times for ambulances.

The Service has also put in place detailed plans to deal with the challenges that severe weather can bring at this time of year. The emergency ambulance fleet includes 4x4s and vehicles that are fitted with winter tyres.

Special Operations Response Teams will be on hand to provide additional support with special equipment and all terrain vehicles.  Normal contingency arrangements with partner agencies such as the Red Cross and Coastguard, who can provide additional 4x4 assistance, if required, will be in place.

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:

“Our staff do a fantastic job of keeping people safe all year round but are busier than ever during the festive season and into the winter. They work tirelessly to deliver high quality patient care, whatever the conditions.

“Every year we develop detailed operational plans to meet the extra demand, as well as the potential for challenging weather conditions.

“As they enjoy festive parties, we would ask people to drink sensibly and wrap up well for the weather. They should also make travel plans in advance and ensure that they have sufficient supplies of medicines to cover the festive holidays. Calls for non-emergency medical advice can be made to 111.  By taking these simple precautions the public can help us to focus our ambulances on responding to those people who are in most need of our help.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service is saving more lives every year and responds to the most serious life threatening emergencies in an average of 6.6 minutes.