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Ambulance service plea: 'Only dial 999 in true emergencies"

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An ambulance service has pleaded with people who live in areas badly affected by the snow to only call 999 if there is “a true emergency”.

The East of England Ambulance Service made the announcement after it was deluged with emergency call-out requests.

With more snow expected and road conditions worsening, ambulances are facing increasing difficulty in getting to every call out.

Paul Leaman, associate director in operational support for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “Road conditions are extremely hazardous and ambulances are having difficulties reaching calls due to the adverse weather conditions. We are currently responding to calls for emergency assistance across the region and will be deploying 4 x 4 vehicles to help us reach more isolated locations.

“However, we are relying on the public’s good sense to use the 999 service wisely which will help us to respond to people who need our assistance for true emergencies.”

He said that if anyone is in any doubt about whether they need a 999 response they should ring NHS Direct for advice on 0845 4647.

Alternatively, people can contact their local doctor’s surgery. Those within distance of an NHS GP led walk-in centre or minor injury unit should go there for treatment for minor ailments.

Mr Leaman added: “We are also particularly asking drivers and members of the public to avoid unnecessary journeys and not to venture out, even on a relatively short journey.”

Other emergency services have also received a high number of calls.

A spokesman for Essex Police said Sunday was one of the forces busiest days of the year with approximately 600 reported weather-related incidents.

He said 236 calls were made regarding youngsters throwing snowballs.

“Police are continuing to urge people to be sensible and have fun in the snow, but to take extreme care and precaution when venturing outside,” said the spokesman.

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