Paramedics Endure Busiest Weekend


Pressured ambulance crews are having to deal with their busiest weekend of the year.


Paramedics already stretched to the limit face the fallout from the abundance of Christmas parties.
Aboard a 'booze bus' in Camden, north London, the pressure on crews is obvious.
The specially designed vehicle is designed to deal with alcohol-only calls, freeing up front line ambulances.
The booze bus is still at base when the first call-out comes, and so begins the evening's work.
From a homeless man who seemingly simply wants a warm bed for the night, to the victim of a drunken gang assault, the paramedics see it all.
Just as the evening appears to be winding down, a young man in a wheelchair with epilepsy gets kicked out of a club and starts to seize.
As he fits and vomits in the back of the bus, paramedic Richard Harpin calmly talks us through the treatment.
"Depending on how his normal seizures go, we can probably let him come around and wake up normally," he says.
"The problem we have is that alcohol can affect epilepsy medicines, so if he's been drinking which he says he has, it can reduce the effectiveness of epilepsy medicines and lead to more seizures."
Traditionally this weekend is one of the busiest for paramedics, but this year is worse than usual.
The cold start to the winter has seen an exceptionally high number of 999 call outs, meaning many ambulance crews are being stretched to the limits.
Those limits are being tested still further by the volume of alcohol-related call outs. In London alone figures show an increase of 11% in the last year alone, and that was before the party season even began.
A&E support worker James Duffy explains the knock-on effect of having to deal with so many drink-related incidents.
"It's tying up beds that genuinely ill people need. It's also tying up front line crews which, when they are dealing with drunks they can't deal with the main bread and butter jobs which they should be doing."
The worst is not yet over for ambulance crews across the UK.
No-one would choose to end the night in a booze bus or A&E because of too much alcohol.
But with a busy Saturday evening predicted, many more probably will.


I'm on call tonight and St John Ambulance have been begging me to help out, (maybe on boxing day!) but unfortunately I can't be in two places at once. This is why I need more volunteers to contact us. My details are available here or on my web http://www.steveblethyn.co.uk/ or you can contact the 24 hr responder information line 0800 587 0207 or even email them direct cfr@scas.nhs.uk

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