How we prepare for winter
Public can help ease demand by only using 999 in an emergency
The winter is without doubt the busiest time of
year for all ambulance services in the UK.
Last year, emergency calls to NEAS reached
record levels - with one 24-hour period seeing more than 1,300
people in the North East contact us for help.
Snow, frost and cold temperatures contribute to
a rise in the number of slips, trips and falls, along with an
increase in illnesses such as the flu or the Norovirus.
The North East Ambulance Service actually starts
preparing for winter in the summer. Snow shovels and special
traction socks for ambulance tyres are ordered, along with other
pieces of kit which come in handy at this time of year.
Arrangements are made to add extra 4x4 vehicles to our regular
This means our crews have the equipment and
vehicles they need to navigate through some potentially extremely
Inevitably, response times may drop on a day
when our region experiences severe frost or snow - but our
ambulance crews will try and reach you as soon as they can.
We also have a dedicated winter plan. This takes
in all the potential hazards that winter can throw at us, and
provides solutions. Every year it's reviewed, and if we have
discovered a better way of doing something from the previous
winter, then it's added in.
The winter planning team meet every few weeks
from September onwards to keep an eye on how the plan is working.
Each department within NEAS also makes a daily report, listing any
problems it has encountered due to the weather.
As during the rest of the year, NEAS continues
to operate 24/7. On days when conditions are particularly tough we
may call on other agencies to strengthen our options. These include
the Great North Air Ambulance, St John Ambulance, British Red
Cross, the RNLI and various mountain rescue teams.
Our Patient Transport Service will be maintained
throughout the winter period as per current arrangements unless
adverse winter weather conditions make this impossible.
NEAS stays closely involved with the Met Office and Environment
Agency during this busy period, and is constantly updated on
weather conditions. We get our first forecast on the coming winter
in the autumn!
The indications are that we will be busier this
year than the last.
With that in mind, we are asking the public to
help us, by only calling 999 for a genuine emergency.
Minor injuries and ailments can be dealt with
via NHS 111, your GP, or a walk-in health centre.
The public can also help by ensuring they have a
stock of regular medicines, and where possible, by staying indoors
when temperatures plummet.
Click here to read the full
Winter Plan for England.