South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is reminding residents to only call 999 in an emergency over the bank holiday weekend.
SECAmb is receiving an average close to 150 extra calls a day this year compared to 2013.
So far this year (January 1 to August 21) it has received 565,609 calls. This compares to 530,985 calls received in the same period in 2013.
With this in mind the Trust is asking the public for its support over what is expected to be a busy bank holiday weekend for its staff.
SECAmb always prepares for busy periods such as bank holidays but with the service already facing this additional demand it is reminding the public that 999 should only be dialled in an emergency.
While 999 Emergency Operations Centre staff are ready to help anyone in a true emergency and where appropriate dispatch ambulance crews to the scene, for non-emergencies people are able to dial 111.
NHS 111, which SECAmb runs in partnership with Harmoni across its Kent, Surrey and Sussex region is able to provide a wide range of health advice but still arrange ambulance attendance for anyone suffering from more a serious problem.
Health advice is also available from pharmacies and from walk-in centres across the region. People are reminded to familiarise themselves with bank holiday hours in their local area.
SECAmb paramedic and senior operations manager James Pavey said: “Summer is always a busy time for us but this year it is proving particularly busy. We’re preparing for another busy bank holiday weekend and need the public to help us.
“In a real emergency we don’t want people to hesitate in dialling 999 but where someone isn’t in a serious or life-threatening condition we would expect the caller to consider the other options available to them.
“We can help everyone who dials 999 and serious and life-threatening calls will always be assigned an immediate ambulance response but people should be aware that not all the calls we receive will result in us sending an ambulance crew to the scene.
“We can provide clinical advice over the phone – in fact more than 10 per cent of our calls are handled this way – advise someone to make their own way to A&E or perhaps direct a caller to a more appropriate service.
“We’d ask people to be enjoy the rest of the weather this summer has to offer but to be sensible and not unnecessarily increase their chances of having to dial 999.”