999 calls soar for halloween

Derek Cartwright, acting director of operations at NWAS
Derek Cartwright, acting director of operations at NWAS
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The North West Ambulance Service saw a 13 per cent rise in 999 calls on Halloween compared to last year, making the weekend just as busy as the traditionally demanding New Year’s Eve.

Director of operations, Derek Cartwright, said: “The surge in calls was also seen by our neighbouring ambulance trusts so we don’t believe this was unique to the North West but it was disappointing to see so many alcohol and assault related calls. Our crews were kept extremely busy dealing with cut hands, head injuries, assault injuries and those who had simply too much alcohol. This ties up our resources for those who urgently need us and unfortunately, there were genuine cases this weekend where people had to wait longer than we would have liked for an ambulance response.

“While we do prioritise resources according to clinical need, we do still have a duty of care to those with head injuries or who are unresponsive regardless as to the reason why but many of these situations can be avoided if people took greater care of themselves and each other.”

Assaults in pubs and clubs were seen all over the region and the Trust also received calls reporting stuck contact lenses, broken fingers, a Halloween costume on fire, vomiting after drinking and someone who fell getting into a taxi late at night – the Trust even answered a 999 call from someone who was choking on a pair of plastic vampire fangs.

In the meantime, 4,052 calls were received reporting what were deemed as life-threatening or potentially life-threatening and some of these may well have struggled to get through as those with non-urgent cases also rang 999.

Derek added: “We don’t want to stop people having fun but we only have a finite number of resources – including those who answer the calls, and to have phone lines tied up for minor avoidable incidents is frustrating for staff and also puts those people with serious conditions at risk. We are fast approaching the Christmas party season and would like the public to celebrate the festive season responsibly and without injury.”