Trust declares major incident over 27% rise in serious calls
AMBULANCE staff had to use "special procedures" for the first time in 12 months to help cope with a 27% increase in emergency calls.
As the number of calls soared, workers at East Midlands Ambulance Service put in extra hours and volunteers at charities St John and the British Red Cross offered their help.
The trust declared a "major incident" when it responded to 738 calls relating to life-threatening situations on Sunday, compared with a daily average of 580.
A "major incident" for Emas is a situation which cannot be handled by the service without it making arrangements outside its normal routine. This involved voluntary organisations, such as St John, and the companies which run the region's non-emergency patient transport service taking on emergency work.
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Andy Dunn, the trust's deputy director of operations for emergency preparedness, said: "On that day, we saw demand for our services increase significantly.
"By implementing our preplanned major incident response, we were able to safely put in place measures to ensure calls were prioritised – and appropriate resources sent to deal with patients in immediately life-threatening and serious conditions. This is the first time in the past 12 months we have declared any type of major incident."
Mr Dunn said he wanted to thank workers for their efforts during the busy period.
He said: "Staff supported us by coming in and by extending their working hours. We also want to thank our voluntary aid partners who worked hard with us to ensure demand was controlled and managed safely.
"We continue to experience peaks of high demand and I urge people to use the emergency 999 number and hospital emergency departments wisely."
Emas said it had also experienced high numbers of calls two days before declaring its "major incident" – with 613 calls about life-threatening situations, known as category A calls.
The following day, the trust responded to a "significant increase" in demand due to black ice plus "extraordinary pressure" on the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
A spokeswoman said: "We acted effectively to manage our own increase in demand and to help Yorkshire answer a significant increase in calls. We did not declare a major incident on this day."
The spokeswoman said the trust is looking into exactly why there was the increase in 999 calls on Sunday.
It may see its busiest day of the year today. It took more than 400 extra calls on the same day last year but said the public could help to reduce demand. Mr Dunn said: "Minor injuries or illnesses can be treated by your local GP, pharmacy or walk-in centre."
He said Emas could then concentrate on life-threatening incidents.