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News Report Page 6 of 10
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999 service gears up for the busiest night of the year

AS the Region gets ready to see in the New Year in with loved ones, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is gearing up for what could be their busiest night of the year as they prepare to handle up to 6,000 emergency calls in just 1 day. The service will have 30% more staff working in their emergency operations centres and an extra 79 Ambulances out on the road available to respond to emergencies, but are still calling on the public to help them out by only dialling:- 999 in a life threatening emergency.

Director of Operations, Ged Blezard, said:- "Although we have increased our staffing levels as much as we can on New Year's Eve, it's still really important that we're only called when we're really needed. During peak times, we expect that people will have to wait slightly longer for an Ambulance, particularly if the patient is not in an immediately life threatening condition, we ask people to please bear with us and only call back if there has been a change in the patient's condition. We have made changes to the way we manage calls to give more information about expected wait times, but we aren't able to give a specific time. We do always get to incidents as quickly as possible, but we must prioritise based on severity of the condition to allow us to attend to the most seriously ill patients 1st."

In 2017, NWAS saw a 50% increase in emergency calls on the night of New Year's Eve when compared to a regular Saturday night and whopping 170% increase in calls to assaults.

Ged continues:- "New Year's Eve is a time for fun and festivities, but it's really important to avoid spoiling the fun by drinking too much alcohol. Know your limits and be sure to plan your journey home."

For less serious incidents that do not require an immediate Ambulance response, callers are now asked if it's possible for the patient to safely make their own way to Hospital, or if an Ambulance has been called which is no longer needed, to call us back on:- 999 to cancel.

The Emergency Services 999 line has provided a lifeline for members of the public to contact the:- Police, Fire, Ambulance or Coastguard, for the last 80 years. It is the most memorable number in the UK and provides a vital service.

6 BT call centres handle the nation's:- 999 calls in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the North of England, passing calls to the relevant emergency service.

In the past year, BT's committed team handled more than 34 million calls at an average of 93,000 per day. Of those calls connected to the Emergency Services, 49% were for the Police, 47% Ambulance, 4% Fire and less than 1% for the Coastguard. As most people are winding down to enjoy the festive celebrations, calls to:- 999 are expected to surge, with teams working around the clock to deal with the demands.

Ian Watson, 999 Manager at BT, commented:- "Our busiest period of the year is from about 9pm on New Year's Eve to 3am, on New Year's morning, when we receive almost ½ a day's calls in just 6 hours with a peak of up to 9,000 calls per hour."

Jane Larkin, Control Room Manager at North Yorkshire Police, stresses the demand on the Police service, commenting:- "During the festive period, the public still need the assistance of the Emergency Services who are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide a service. Traditionally from the Friday evening before Christmas up to New Year's Day Police Forces deal with many extra calls. The majority of these calls are from people in genuine need of policing services such as reporting people as missing, concern for people's safety, attendance at serious road traffic collisions and violent incidents where excessive drinking has been a factor. In recent years there have also been requests for assistance caused by extreme seasonal weather patterns, such as flooding and heavy snow conditions."

The:- 999 line handles thousands of critical calls, but also some less well judged requests. Calls that the Police have received include:-

"The Off Licence has closed early."

Requests for instructions on how to defrost a turkey.

Requests for a lift home from the Police because no taxis are available.

"What time does Sainsbury's close?"

"Can I apply to the Police Station for a licence for Santa's sleigh?"

"My mobile phone is not working; can you help?"

A report of someone who is not sleeping very well; can the Police recommend a solution?

A man woke at home after drinking heavily wearing a pair of handcuffs and wanted to know how to remove them.

Jeremy Brown, Head of Emergency Operations Centre at West Midlands Ambulance Service commented:- "Our staff work incredibly hard to make sure people get the help that they need as quickly as possible. On average they answer the call within just 3 seconds of it being put through by our colleagues at BT. At this time of year when our teams are dealing with a high volume of calls, we would urge people to think carefully before calling:- 999. The line exists to help in an emergency and calling unnecessarily distracts from those in need. If you are unsure whether to ring, try the:- 111 service 1st as even if you need an Ambulance, it won't delay help coming."

As the front line response team at BT and the Emergency Services gear up for the busiest night of the year, the public are advised to be mindful and only dial:-:- 999 in the case of an emergency.

₤675 million fund to transform High Streets and Town Centres opens to communities

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP launches Future High Streets Fund to help modernise High Streets and Town Centres. The announcement follows recommendation from retail expert Sir John Timpson to help Local Authorities adapt to the changing nature of the High Streets. ₤55 million to restore historic buildings and put them back into use. Towns across the country are urged to bid for a share of ₤675 million to transform their local High Streets into modern vibrant community hubs. The Future High Streets fund which opened on 26 December 2018 will help local leaders implement bold new visions to transform their Town Centres and make them fit for the future with co-funding to consolidate properties on the High Street, improve transport and access into Town Centres and converting retail units into new homes. In the October 2018's Budget, in response to interim recommendations from Sir John Timpson, Chair of the Town Centres Expert Panel, the Chancellor, announced ₤675 million Future High Street Fund as part of the Government's Plan for the High Street.

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said:- "We all know High Streets are changing, we can't hide from this reality. But we're determined to ensure they continue sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come. To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local High Streets. Empowering leaders on the ground is key too; they best understand the challenges facing their areas. Our Future High Streets Fund will drive forward this change, transforming our Town Centres into the thriving community hubs of the future."

Places bidding for the Fund will be supported by the High Streets Task Force, which will be established in 2019 and will support local leadership.  Up to ₤55 million of the Fund has also been allocated to support the regeneration of ‘heritage High Streets'. Bids will help to restore historic High Street properties for new work spaces or cultural venues. More details of this will be announced in due course.

The Chair of the Town Centres Expert Panel, Sir John Timpson said:- "I have learnt, from my own business, that the best way to get things done is to give people on the front line the freedom to get on with the job in the way they know best. I am pleased that the Government has acted on my panel's recommendations to set up a Future High Streets Fund to help local leaders turn their plans into reality. By helping our Towns create their own individual community hub, I believe we will have vibrant Town Centres to provide a much needed place for face to face contact in the digital age."

If this is of interest to you, please read the prospectus and download an application form via this link.

All forms should be completed and submitted electronically with any supporting material via email to:- HighStreetsFund@Communities.Gov.UK.

Applications for Phase 1 of the Fund must be received by midnight on Friday, 22 March 2019.

For further enquiries about the Fund, please contact:- HighStreetsFund@Communities.Gov.UK. Also 'The High Streets Expert Panel Report' can be read online now.

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