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Ambulance Service ready for festive surge

20/12/2011

While most people are enjoying the festive holiday, ambulance crews will be working around the clock, responding to 999 calls and taking people to hospital for necessary treatments in all weather conditions.

At what is the busiest time of year for The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), resources will be increased by up to 20 per cent at peak periods to respond to the surge in emergency calls - most of them alcohol related - as Christmas and Hogmanay parties get into full swing.

The SAS has also put in place detailed plans to deal with the challenges that severe weather can bring at this time of year. The emergency ambulance fleet includes over 150 vehicles that are either 4x4s or fitted with automatic snow chains and others are fitted with winter tyres.

Special Operations Response teams will provide additional support with specially equipped Land Rovers and six wheeled Polaris vehicles that can operate in difficult terrain. Normal contingency arrangements with partner agencies such as the Red Cross and Coastguard, who provide additional 4x4 assistance if required, will be in place.

Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, said:

"Last year's winter was one of the most severe ever seen in Scotland so it is important that we are well prepared for the festive period to help keep our NHS moving.

"Ambulance crews work incredibly hard to provide the best patient care 365 days a year, and at this, their most challenging time of year, they play a particularly key role working around the clock to respond to 999 calls through all conditions and weather.

"This year the Scottish Ambulance Service's emergency fleet includes over 150 vehicles that are equipped to deal with severe weather and I was delighted to meet first hand some of our all weather warriors from the special operations response teams this morning, who play a vital role during extreme conditions."

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:

"Our staff work tirelessly to respond to people in need, whatever the weather conditions. Our 4x4 capacity is greater than any previous year and detailed operational plans are in place to cope with adverse weather, which worked well during the recent storms.

"As they enjoy festive parties, we would ask people to drink sensibly and wrap up well for the weather. This will help us to focus our ambulances on responding to those people who are in most need of our help."