Wales Ambulance Service gears up for cold snap
Wales Ambulance Trust is taking extra precautions to ensure it can continue to get help to patients during the adverse weather which has been forecast for this week.
The Trust’s 4×4 vehicles are ready and available, ambulances have been fitted with winter tyres and stocks of rock salt have also been topped up at stations.
With Wales braced for wintry weather, and yellow weather warnings in place in Flintshire for snow the Welsh Ambulance Service is reminding members of the public to stay safe and use the service appropriately.
The Trust’s dedicated falls teams are on standby for the likely increase in trips and falls.
North Wales’ Community Assistance Team – a partnership with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service which aims to reduce the number of people who need to attend hospital after a fall – will be rolled out into Flintshire and Wrexham temporarily in preparation for increased demand.
The Trust is appealing to all patients who have booked transport via its Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service to make contact if they no longer need transport.
These patients are also advised that there may be potential delays to their transport if adverse weather hits, and so are encouraged to bring with them essentials like medication, food and money.
Director of Operations Richard Lee said:
We are closely monitoring the weather forecast for Wales and have contingency plans in place to deal with the adverse conditions currently predicted across the region.
We are also working with other emergency services and organisations to make sure we can get medical help to a patient in the safest manner in wintry conditions.
We are well prepared to deliver the same high standard of care to the people of Wales, but inevitably when it is snowy or icy our responses may take longer.
We would ask the public to help us by keeping well and using the 999 system wisely.”
There are extra precautions people can take to protect themselves from the risks associated with cold weather so they don’t become ill or injured.
Richard has this advice for the public.
Top tips to keep well this winter
- Check that your heating system works properly – keep the temperature in the room you are using at around 21°C
- Dress for warmth and comfort, putting on several thinner layers of clothing to trap the heat – wear warm, dry, flat boots or shoes with good non-slip soles, especially in frosty or wet weather
- Eat a well-balanced diet with hot meals every day – have regular hot drinks to give you extra warmth and energy
- Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet – check you have enough basic medicines at home to manage common ailments, such as coughs, colds, headaches, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhoea
- Keep an eye on your neighbours to ensure they are looking after themselves
- Take extra care in the mornings when it’s likely to be most icy – elderly residents are particularly at risk of slipping and falling while going about everyday tasks like taking the bins out or even feeding the birds. That can lead to serious injuries such as broken limbs or hips, requiring surgery and a stay in hospital
- Instead, when it gets icy, they are advised to stay indoors; and if possible get a fit and healthy friend or relative to run any errands for them. Or, wait until later in the day when ice has thawed.
- Make sure your vehicle is winter ready carry an emergency kit in your boot – this should include an ice scraper, torch, first aid kit, blankets and jump leads
- Drive responsibly in poor visibility and conditions – it’s better to drive slowly and smoothly to avoid braking sharply
- If you’re forced to abandon your vehicle in heavy snow, please park it responsibly so that emergency vehicles can pass
The public are reminded that there are a host of alternatives to 999 and the Emergency Department.
If you’re ill and unsure what to do, take one of the many NHS Direct Wales online symptom checkers for tailored advice.
You can also call the service on 0845 46 47 for 24/7 health advice and information – or 111 if you live in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board area.
You can also visit your GP, pharmacist or nearest Minor Injuries Unit, where there is no need for an appointment.
Ambulances are for serious and life-threatening emergencies only the service says.
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