Residents in Yorkshire are being warned to take extra care as a cold snap takes hold over the next few days.
With Met Office warnings of snowfall, strong winds and freezing temperatures, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging people to make the necessary preparations to keep themselves and others safe and well.
When temperatures plummet and snow and ice are on the ground, the ambulance service traditionally sees a marked increase in patients with breathing difficulties, weather-related incidents slips, trips and falls and road traffic collisions – all of which put them under additional pressure.
Dr David Macklin, Executive Director of Operations, is heading up the preparations at the Trust ahead of the cold snap. He said: “We have plans in place to help us ensure we can continue to operate in the wintry conditions but ask that the public also make their own plans to ensure they don’t need to call us unnecessarily for assistance.
“Our staff will be working extremely hard to get to local people who call upon us for help as quickly and as safely as possible but understandably hazardous driving conditions may lead to extended drive-times meaning it might take us a little longer than normal to reach patients in the worst-hit areas.
“I urge people to take extra care over the next couple of days when out driving or walking and, where possible, to avoid travelling at all in icy or snowy conditions. If they do have to go out, they should ensure that they wear the correct footwear and appropriate warm clothing.”
Dr Macklin is also reminding people that the emergency ambulance service should be used wisely. He said: “I would ask members of the public to stop and think before they dial 999 and only call for an ambulance in an emergency when it is obvious that you or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical help.
“I certainly don’t want to deter people from calling us in serious cases such as heart attack, breathing difficulties or stroke for example, and please be reassured that we will be focusing our efforts on reaching patients with life-threatening illnesses and serious injuries as a priority.
“As we need to get to these people as quickly as possible without having to divert from patients who have a minor illness or injury which can be easily treated elsewhere, I do ask that people consider options such as their local pharmacy, GP surgery and NHS 111 for advice and treatment for less serious ailments.”