NORTH West Ambulance Service staff are asking residents to consider whether their calls are genuine emergencies over the festive season.

With more than 4,000 calls on Christmas Day along – including 3,178 incidents attended – this Christmas has been one of the busiest ever with further activity expected as we head towards New Year’s Eve.

Calls made to 999 which did not require an ambulance included complaints of cold symptoms, a cracked tooth, and stomach ache after swallowing toothpaste. Callers were advised to seek help elsewhere.

Compounded by icy roads and difficult driving conditions, NWAS is urging those who can to check on vulnerable neighbours and family members to allow ambulances to be kept clear for genuine emergencies.

Director of operations Ged Blezard said: “This Christmas has been one of our busiest ever and there are no indications that activity is going to reduce as we head towards New Year’s Eve – traditionally always our busiest day.

“Wednesday (December 27), we were astounded to see that our control staff had answered 5,491 emergency calls and we know that not all of these required an emergency ambulance response.

“Unfortunately, there have been some patients who have been waiting longer than we would like but I want to assure the public that we are doing the very best we can to reach people as quickly as possible, but if your condition is not urgent, you will wait some time for a response or be given advice on other healthcare options.”

Other wasted 999 calls made between Decmeber 23 and 27 included complaints of constipation, needing a repeat prescription, and a burnt finger which – after six days – was still swollen.

With New Year’s Eve celebrations taking place across the region on Sunday, NWAS is also reminding people to act responsibly.

Ged said: “On this night we see an increase in assault and alcohol related injuries and these are avoidable if people take some simple steps – eat well, don’t drink to excess and wear warm clothing when out and about.

“No-one wants to see in the New Year with a headache and bruises.”