Call handlers in Kent, Surrey and Sussex dealt with more than 9,500 999 calls over the Easter weeekend.
Bosses at Soouth East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust have praised staff and volunteers at the trust, who ‘went the extra mile’ to respond to patients.
Across its Kent, Sussex and Surrey region demand was up 11 per cent compared to Easter 2015.
Staff in the region’s NHS 111 service, which SECAmb runs in partnership with Care UK, were also busy and 2,000 calls received an ambulance response.
A spokesman for SECAmb said: “The increase in demand was coupled with the challenges of responding to Storm Katie in the early hours of Monday.
“Staff and volunteers including dedicated teams of Community First Responders worked tirelessly to reach patients as quickly as possible.
“The trust remains extremely busy with demand up on last year.
“It is asking the public for its continued support by remembering that 999 should only be used in an emergency. Control room staff will triage calls and prioritise life-threatening emergencies. During this period of increased demand calls of a non life-threatening nature are likely to receive a longer
The trust said it is working with hosptials to minimise delays when patients are handed over at A&E.
A spokesman added: “It is vital that patients are handed over without delay so that ambulance crews are free to respond to 999 calls out in the community.”
James Pavey, SECAmb paramedic and regional operations manager said: “We plan ahead for periods of increased demand and we were aware this weekend was going to be challenging. It’s an understatement to simply say that staff and volunteers have risen to this challenge. We know that they have gone the extra mile to help patients.
“We’re extremely proud of their continued dedication in the face of this increased demand.
“As we begin a new week, we’re continuing to experience high levels of demand and we are focussing our efforts to responding to our most seriously ill and injured patients. Non life-threatening calls are unfortunately likely to receive a longer response.
“Anyone faced with an emergency shouldn’t hesitate to call but we would urge anyone else who needs help to consider all the other options available to them. This might be dialling NHS 111 for help, where staff can provide support and advice over the phone and refer patient to out-of-hours services where appropriate.”
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