Ambulance Service Prepares for Big Freeze

Thursday, 17 January, 2013

David Williams, Deputy Director of Operations, at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

RESIDENTS are being warned to take extra care as the severe winter weather takes hold over the next few days.

With Met Office warnings of heavy snowfall, extremely icy conditions and freezing temperatures, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging people to make the necessary preparations to keep themselves and others safe and well.

The Trust says that when temperatures plummet and snow and ice are on the ground, they traditionally see a marked increase in patients with breathing difficulties, weather-related incidents slips, trips and falls and road traffic collisions - all of which put additional pressure on their service.

David Williams, Deputy Director of Operations, is heading up the preparations at the Trust ahead of the big freeze. He said: "We have plans in place to help us ensure we can continue to operate in the adverse conditions but ask that the public also make their own plans to ensure they don't need to call us unnecessarily for assistance.

"Our staff will be working extremely hard to get to local people who call upon us for help as quickly and as safely as possible but understandably hazardous driving conditions may lead to extended drive-times meaning it might take us a little longer than normal to reach patients in the worst-hit areas.

"I urge people to take extra care over the coming days when out driving or walking and where possible to avoid travelling at all in icy or snowy conditions and if they do have to go out, ensure that they wear the correct footwear and appropriate warm clothing."

Mr Williams is also reminding people that the emergency ambulance service should be used for urgent cases only. He said: "I would ask members of the public only to use our services in a genuine emergency when it is obvious that someone has a life-threating illness or injury.

"I don't want to deter people from calling us in serious cases such as heart attack, breathing difficulties or stroke for example, and please be reassured that we will be focusing our efforts on reaching patients with life-threatening illnesses and serious injuries as a priority.

"As we need to get to these people as quickly as possible without having to divert from patients who have a minor illness or injury which can be easily treated elsewhere, I do ask that people consider options such as their local pharmacy, GP surgery and NHS Direct for advice and treatment for minor ailments."

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