Drunken revellers who enjoyed a New Year tipple too many left Midland paramedics working flat out coping with an emergency call every 12 seconds.
West Midlands Ambulance Service said it took almost 1,300 emergency calls in the first five hours of today – 50 of which were deemed “highly inappropriate”.
These included a call about a “very minor” injury to a finger and one from a man who wanted to know if New York was in America and what time it was over there.
“The New Year is traditionally one of the busiest periods for us and this has been no exception,” said Rob Ashford, West Midlands Ambulance Service chief operating officer.
“A large proportion of the calls were for alcohol-related incidents, including people collapsing, falling over and injuring themselves, fights and assaults – many in and around pubs and clubs.”
As midnight approached, the number of calls increased, with a call coming in every 12 seconds on average – with 880 received at the service’s control room in Brierley Hill, 236 in Stafford and 174 in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
Extra staff were drafted in to cope with the rise in demand.
Doctors, paramedics and volunteers from St John’s Ambulance Service also treated a further 50 people at three temporary medical units set up to treat party goers with minor injuries in Broad Street, Birmingham, High Street, Solihull and Parkfield Road, Stourbridge.
The units were set up to deal with drunken revellers near clubs and pubs to relieve pressure on hospital A&E departments.
Ambulance workers were also called to other emergencies, including road accidents in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and Herefordshire.
Mr Ashford added: “The hard work and dedication of our staff and managers meant the people of the West Midlands region were able to enjoy the night and stay safe.
“Many of our staff gave up their own time to work additional hours, away from their families while others enjoyed themselves. Their commitment helped provide an excellent service.
“Considering the already well-publicised pressures experienced by hospitals, they all worked well with the ambulance service to ensure patients were off-loaded quickly.
“It meant our ambulances were freed up more quickly to be able to respond to the next emergency.
“I would like to give a big personal ‘thank you’ to all those staff involved.”