Heatwave: NI Ambulance Service issues advice on how to cope as temperatures rise

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) has appealed to the public to only call 999 if facing an emergency situation during the heatwave expected over the next few days.

Asking for the co-operation of the public in advance of the forecast rise in temperatures, NIAS says it anticipates an increase in the number of less urgent calls will be received through the 999 system.

A spokesperson stressed: “We will continue to prioritise all calls to ensure we provide the fastest and most appropriate response to those whose need is most urgent.”

However, the service is asking the public to consider other options for non-emergency situations,

Families enjoying a day out in the good weather at Seapark near Holywood in Co Down. Picture: Press Eye

“To help us protect the most vulnerable we would ask that the public only call if an emergency, but not to hesitate to do so if necessary. Before dialling 999 we would ask other options are considered for less serious issues. These options might include self-care or advice from other healthcare professionals such as pharmacists.

“We would also ask, in advance, that if possible patients consider self-transport to ED. While speaking to our Control staff, the caller may also be asked at that stage if it is possible to transport the patient by other means with the aim of getting them to definitive care quicker when resources are stretched.

“When calling 999 you will be advised that your call has been accepted and to only call back if there is a change in patient’s condition. Please do not call just to check on ambulance arrival as this creates difficulties in answering other calls.

“If you find you are waiting for Control staff to speak to you, please be patient and do not hang up as you would lose your place in the queue. We will answer you as soon as someone is available.

Mia,Charlotte,and Melissa Willoughby from Belfast enjoying themselves at Seapark near Holywood. Picture: Press Eye

“We want to re-emphasise that calls will be prioritised with less serious calls having to wait extended periods. We apologise for any delays you may experience but can assure you that we will get an ambulance to you as soon as we possibly can.

“But please help us help you,” the spokesperson added,

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How to keep safe during hot weather

The NIAS has provided the following advice to help the Northern Ireland public through the heatwave,

* Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm

* If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat

* Avoid physical exertion

* Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes

* Drink plenty of cold drinks

* If you have a health problem, keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator

* Look out for others especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses

* Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals – even for a few minutes

* Remember that it can get uncomfortably hot indoors too. Try to keep your bedroom and living space cool, by closing the curtains on windows that receive the sun and opening your windows at cooler times of the day and overnight when safe to do so. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical items as these generate heat.

* Beware of swimming or diving into standing water e.g. quarry ponds or gravel pits as these can be unexpectedly cold causing shock, or can contain hidden obstacles under the surface which may trap swimmers.