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Plea to use 999 service wisely after Busy Bank Holiday

THE Welsh Ambulance Service is appealing to the public to use its services wisely as it recovers from a busy Bank Holiday weekend.

More than 4,200 calls were made to 999 over the three-day weekend, up three per cent from the same weekend last year but down six per cent from the spring Bank Holiday weekend in May.

More than 370 calls (nine per cent) were immediately life-threatening ‘Red’ calls – but almost a fifth (19 per cent) were non-urgent ‘Green’ calls.

Among them was someone who said they had lost a toenail, someone who had gashed their shin by kicking a bike and someone who claimed they were on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles before hanging up.

The top three reasons people called the ambulance service this weekend were for breathing problems, falls and chest pains.

In the face of continued high demand, the Trust has set out how it prioritises 999 calls so that the public can make an informed choice about what to do if someone is ill or injured.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Operations, said: “We rightly prioritise patients that are the sickest or most severely injured.

“A Red call is when someone is in imminent danger of death, like if they are in cardiac arrest or choking – we try and respond to these immediately life-threatening calls in eight minutes.

“An Amber call is serious but not immediately life-threatening, like chest pain or fractures – we’ll still send the nearest resource as fast as possible.

“A Green call is neither serious nor life-threatening, like earache or minor injuries – Green calls are often passed to NHS 111 Wales for a clinical telephone assessment.

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“If you’re not in imminent danger of death, you could wait longer for our help in periods of high demand – potentially several hours – and you could also be directed to help without an ambulance being sent.

“If you’re unwell but it’s not a serious emergency, the best thing to do is take one of our online symptom checkers on the NHS 111 Wales website.

“You’ll answer a set of questions which will help you decide what to do next, be that to visit a pharmacy or GP, administer self-care at home, visit the Emergency Department or call 111 or 999.

“Taking some ownership and using our service responsibly will mean that more of our precious resources are available for those who need us most.”

Ahead of the start of a new school year, the Trust is also asking the public to continue to take precautions to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

Lee said: “We look around the rest of the UK to assess how Covid-19 is spreading as this could provide signals about potentially what might unfold in Wales.

“There has been a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in Scotland, and whilst that could be for a number of reasons, schools restart in Scotland much sooner than here in Wales.

“With the re-opening of schools comes increased interactions, so it’s important that the public continue to play their part to halt a further spread, particularly now as we edge toward winter which is usually very busy for the NHS.

“The Covid-19 vaccine remains the best line of defence to protect yourself and others and also helps to reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from Covid-19.”

Welsh Government is asking families and learners to continue to follow guidance on isolating, testing and vaccination to minimise the risk of the spread of Covid-19 in education settings –

·       Get the vaccine if it’s offered to you.

·       Maintain regular handwashing.

·       Any staff or learner with symptoms of Covid-19 – however mild – should stay at home and book a PCR test at their closest test site.

·       Staff in primary schools – and staff and learners in secondary schools and colleges – without symptoms should take two lateral flow tests three days apart during the week leading up to their first day back. If the test is positive they should self-isolate and book a PCR test.

·       Going into the new term, staff in primary schools and staff and learners in secondary schools and colleges not showing symptoms should continue to take regular rapid lateral flow tests twice a week and report the results online.

·       Learners in Year 7 and above should continue to wear face coverings on school and college transport.