SOUTH Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) is gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year for its emergency 999 service.

Christmas celebrations and the great Christmas getaway will begin on Friday 22 December, with office staff finishing work and heading out for celebrations, as well more traffic on the region’s roads as people start to head off to visit friends, family or take a Christmas holiday.

SCAS are now advising people to only call 999 when someone is suffering a life-threatening illness or injury which includes; Loss of consciousness, Persistent, severe chest pain, breathing difficulties, or not breathing at all, Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped, If you suspect someone is having a heart attack or stroke or if they have a severe allergic reaction.

Paul Jefferies, Assistant Director of Operations at SCAS, said: “We would encourage the public to use 999 and A&E only for life-threatening or serious emergencies; advice they should follow all year round, but particularly during the winter and Christmas period which sees the highest demand across all NHS services.

“We predict our 999 demand on an hourly basis (normally within 5% accuracy) and then match our resources to these figures by hour of day.

“Our resourcing over the festive period in South Central is strong, but there are a number of ways members of the public can really help us make sure we can get to our most seriously ill or injured patients as quickly as possible.”

They are also advising to visit a local pharmacy or going to a walk-in centre if you are experiencing a non-life threatening illness or injury.

SCAS are also advising people about Christmas celebrations, party-goers are told not to drink on an empty stomach, to know what they are drinking, have water in-between drinks, plan your journey home and to steer clear of entering water.

Road users are being warned that bad weather makes the road surfaces potentially more dangerous and December is the peak month for serious road traffic collisions.

Drivers are being told to allow extra space between vehicles particularly if road conditions are wet, it is very cold or foggy and also to check tires before setting off on a long journey.