29 Dec 2014 - Seeing the New Year in Safely

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is asking members of the public to take a sensible approach to celebrating the start of 2015 and remember that 999 is for serious and life-threatening emergencies.

Many people celebrate the New Year by going out for drinks or a meal with friends and family and NWAS would like them to enjoy their celebrations whilst staying safe.

Last New Year’s Eve was extremely busy for NWAS as between the hours of 4pm on 31 December 2013 to 11pm on 1 January 2014 -  2,916 calls were made to the Service. With recent activity levels at the highest ever experienced by ambulance services, it is anticipated this year’s call volume will increase significantly. 

NWAS Director of Emergency Services, Derek Cartwright, says: “We always see an increase in emergency calls at this time of year but this year has been exceptional. We are urging the people of the North West to take a sensible and moderate approach to celebrating the New Year and to reduce the risk of becoming another ‘statistic’.”

Below are some simple guidelines from NWAS to get the most out of the New Year celebrations while at the same time staying safe:

  • Eat before going out for the night -- food soaks up alcohol, slowing it down on its way into the bloodstream. It gives energy and lessens the effects of drinking the day after. Eating while you’re out helps too.
  • Drinking lighter beers – 3.5% or 4% compared with the stronger 5% will reduce the number of units consumed.
  • Set a drinks limit before you go out and stick to it.
  • Have a soft drink or water every now and again – this will help keep the body hydrated, and will lessen the effects the next day.
  • Avoid drinking in rounds as this could mean drinking too much or too fast. 
  • Don’t feel as though you have to drink if you don’t want to and respect the wishes of your friends who may not want to drink. 
  • Make sure you know how much you are drinking and when you’ve reached your limit stop. 
  • By diluting a drink with another mixer it will last longer, and lessen the effects. 
  • Drink smaller drinks – singles instead of doubles or a standard glass of wine instead of a large glass. A large glass of wine in most bars is equivalent to a third of a bottle! 
  • Make sure you plan your journey home before you set out for the evening. Don’t leave it to chance. 
  • Make sure you don’t get left to walk home alone. Think about how you’re going to get home, and who with. 
  • If you are using a car to travel make sure the driver is able to drive and has not been drinking or taking drugs.

Finally, stock up the medicine cupboard with simple self-help remedies.  It is important to remember hangovers, headaches and feeling under the weather after a night out can generally be treated in your own home by using medicine from your local pharmacist and getting plenty of rest. For urgent medical advice, you can contact NHS 111.

Derek continues: “The festive period and New Year’s Eve can be a confusing time for people who need to access the NHS.   Many people call 999 when their symptoms could be treated elsewhere. As New Year approaches, it is important that people remember 999 is for serious and life-threatening emergencies.  For urgent medical advice, you can contact NHS 111. 

“Please help us to help the most vulnerable people, by keeping ambulances free to deal with genuine emergencies.

“The Trust would also like wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2015.”