With snowfall, hazardous icy conditions and freezing temperatures, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging people to keep themselves and others safe when they are out and about to only call 999 for an ambulance in an absolute emergency when it is obvious that someone has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury.
The Trust is already very busy with demand for ‘Red’ calls, the most urgent category, over 34% higher yesterday than in previous years.
With snow and ice on the ground, they are expecting an increase in weather-related slips, trips and falls and road traffic collisions - all of which will put additional pressure on their service.
In addition, the region’s NHS 111 urgent care telephone service, run by Yorkshire Ambulance Service, is experiencing very high demand and is appealing to people to be patient while waiting for the phone to be answered and for call-backs from clinicians.
Dr David Macklin, Executive Director of Operations, said: “We have tried and tested plans in place to ensure that we can operate effectively in the adverse weather conditions but ask that members of the public continue to use the service wisely.
“We don’t want to deter people from calling 999 in serious cases such as heart attack, breathing difficulties or stroke for example and please be reassured that we are focusing our efforts on reaching patients with life-threatening illnesses and serious injuries as a priority.
“Our staff are working extremely hard to get to people who call upon us for help as quickly and as safely as possible but, understandably, hazardous driving conditions may mean that it takes us a little longer than normal to reach patients in the worst-hit areas.
“Please take extra care when out driving or walking and, where possible, avoid travelling at all in icy or snowy conditions. If you do have to go out, ensure that you wear appropriate footwear and warm clothing. Also, please check on elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours to ensure they are safe and well.
“Our NHS 111 service is also under pressure and we are asking everyone to be patient as it is taking longer than usual for calls to be answered and for our clinical staff to ring callers back.”