20 more legal highs over weekend

Users putting unneccessary strain on ambulance service

North East Ambulance Service has re-issued a warning after the number of patients calling for emergency help after taking so-called ‘legal highs’ increased again over the weekend.

The total number of cases in our region rose by 20 between Friday and Sunday - including one cardiac arrest. The total since 1st January now stands at 292 calls.

On each ocassion an ambulance was sent to the patient.

Most incidents have been in the West End of Newcastle, but there have also been 999 calls to Blyth, Sunderland and Gateshead.

Individuals who have used legal highs have suffered symptoms ranging from seizures, unconsciousness, shortness of breath, vomiting, aggression, palpitations, agitation and foaming at the mouth.

Head of Resilience and Special Operations, Simon Swallow, said: “There have been a worrying number of calls for patients experiencing potential life-threatening symptoms as a result of taking legal highs.

“These so-called legal highs are not safe to use and carry a serious health risk. The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used before in drugs for human consumption and these incidents in Newcastle are putting people’s lives at risk.”

Mr Swallow added: “We raised our operational status to “Severe Pressure” in December as result of growing demand on the service during winter and these call-outs are putting an additional burden on our service by preventing us from being available to attend other life-threatening emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes.

“We are urging people NOT to take these so-called legal highs as they are putting their own lives in danger and also endangering the lives of others because these calls are potentially delaying our response to someone else who is suffering a heart attack or other life-threatening condition.”


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