30 April 2015 - Choose well this bank holiday Everyone looks forward to the month of May – two Bank Holidays, and if we’re lucky, some rare sunshine and longer weekends to spend with family and friends but for the staff of North West Ambulance Service, it’s business as usual with the addition of some ‘traditional’ bank holiday 999 calls. Whether it’s a case of feeling under the weather, or a minor injury – there are alternatives to dialing 999, as this should be used only for urgent or life-threatening emergencies. Specialist Paramedic, Carol Robertson explains: “Monday is one of our busiest days in terms of 999 calls but Bank Holidays can be even busier due to injuries which can often be treated elsewhere. Especially when the weather is nice we see more people out in the garden or doing a spot of DIY. “In previous May bank holidays, we’ve received 999 calls relating to constipation, minor shoulder, ankle and knee injuries and even for someone who accidentally poked themselves in the eye with their finger. All of these people were given advice as to how to self treat at home by maybe visiting their pharmacy, or to go to their nearest minor injuries unit or walk in centre rather than a hospital emergency department.” The North West Ambulance Service is continuing to see a high level of ‘Red’ life-threatening or potentially life-threatening calls, an increase of 7.2% so far this month compared to April 2014, and these calls must take priority over minor injuries or ailments. Patients who call for non life-threatening ailments or injuries may find themselves waiting some time for an ambulance response. Carol adds: “Callers with non urgent symptoms, in many cases, will be transferred to the Trust’s urgent care desk where we carry out further triage – it is Specialist Paramedics such as myself who can then offer alternatives to an emergency ambulance response. It is important to remember that being taken to hospital in an ambulance does not guarantee you will be seen quicker, patients are triaged again on arrival and are seen in order of clinical need. If you do need to go to hospital but it is not urgent, we would ask people to ask themselves if an ambulance is necessary – can they make their own way so we can keep the ambulance free for someone who desperately needs our help?” Before the Bank Holiday, the Trust is asking people to ensure they have enough of their prescription medicines to see them through the long weekend and to take care when doing any jobs around the house and garden. It’s also a good idea to keep a well stocked medicine cabinet containing items such as: Painkillers – ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol Cough remedies – including lozenges Antihistamines Oral dehydration salts Indigestion remedies Plasters and bandages Antiseptic cream or spray Thermometer Further advice on what you should keep in your medicine cupboard can be found on the NHS Choices website. This site can also be used to find available services such as minor injuries units and emergency dentists in your local area – www.nhs.uk If anyone is unsure about whether their situation is a real emergency, they can also dial 111 for advice. For symptoms such as unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, suspected stroke or extremely heavy bleeding – do not hesitate, ring 999!