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Emergency Services unite to ask communities to use services responsibly amid weather warning

Blue Light Services from across the Thames Valley are joining forces to remind residents about dialing 999 responsibly ahead of the heatwave over the coming days.

The Met Office have today (Friday 15 July) issued a red extreme heat warning for Monday (18 July) and Tuesday (19 July) across the South East. In response, Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and the fire and rescue services from Oxfordshire, Royal Berkshire and Buckinghamshire are collectively issuing advice to residents on steps they can take to reduce demand on their services. This includes:

  • Looking out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions.
  • Closing curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.
  • Drink plenty of water, stay in shaded areas, dress appropriately for the weather and slow down when it is hot.

All services are expecting an increase in demand over the coming days. Communities are being encouraged to only dial 999 in emergency situations, which includes when a life is in danger or a crime is happening right now. There are mechanisms in place for those who need to contact the police and health services in non-emergencies, including online services.

Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg, Chair of the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum said:

“As temperatures increase across the Thames Valley, so will calls to 999. We are working closely with our fire, ambulance, health and local authority partners to prepare for the challenges that heat brings, and to keep our communities safe. Do take advice on water and fire safety and look after yourself and keep hydrated.

“With the expected heat warning over the coming days, we are expected to see an increase in individuals contacting the police, sometimes for matters we cannot help with. To speak to the police about anything that is not an emergency and where you do not need to speak to someone at that moment in time, please contact us online. This will help keep our 101 service for those who need to speak to someone and help preserve 999 as an emergency line if a crime is happening now or life or property is at immediate risk.”

Paul Jefferies, Assistant Director of Operations at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which, if not treated quickly, can be very serious. We are asking people to follow NHS advice about changing your behaviour to cope better with the expected high temperatures, and therefore prevent avoidable 999 emergencies.

“We continue to prioritise our response to those patients with life-threatening and serious emergencies but, due to current levels of pressure we are seeing, there will be delays in responding to other patients with less urgent needs who are assessed as requiring an ambulance response.

“We are asking patients to help us at this time by seeking alternative treatment or advice via NHS 111 online or by calling 111, using local urgent care centres, or speaking to their GP or pharmacist. We are also asking people not to call 999 back to ask about an estimated time unless the patient’s condition has changed. This keeps the line free for someone who may need urgent assistance.”

Phill Mould, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service Group Commander, said:

“It’s great to get out in the fresh air and sunshine with family and friends to spend time enjoying the outdoors. In recent days we have seen an increase in calls to a range of incidents across our area and, with the hot weather set to continue, we would like to help everyone stay safe to avoid having to call us out for something that could have been prevented. By following or sharing some simple safety tips you can also help ensure the emergency services don’t become your unplanned guests!

“If you’re a smoker, it’s safer to smoke outside, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly – a single cigarette discarded inappropriately can cause a significant fire tying up emergency resources for hours, and sometimes days.

“You may also consider going for a refreshing dip, in a river or lake. The water can contain hidden rubbish and debris which can cause injuries and lead to drowning. Sometimes water can be polluted which could lead to illness, so please do think twice before taking a dip!

“With your help, we can all ensure the unpreventable emergencies – more tips can be found in our Safety Advice Hub.”

Doug Buchanan, Area Manager at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said:

“With hot and dry weather, usually comes an increase in accidental fires. It’s more likely barbeques and bonfires will become out of control and they can rapidly escalate into wildfires, leading to greater demand on emergency services. We need your help to prevent these outdoor fires by following our top tips.

“It is also important to stay safe around water. Whilst it may be tempting, it is strongly advised not to enter lakes or rivers as cold water shock can be fatal. It is much safer to find other ways to keep cool and enjoy the summer weather.”

Deb Forder, Home and Community Safety Manager at Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service urge people to be safe and vigilant to signs of fire during this period of extreme heat.  We also encourage communities to not be tempted to take a dip in rivers, lakes or canals. Even when it feels warm, the water, particularly when it’s deep, will still be cold enough to cause cold water shock, which can incapacitate even the most capable swimmers.  Any stretch of water, still or flowing, has the capability for someone to drown. Please remain vigilant during the current heatwave.  For more information concerning water safety please visit www.365Alive.co.uk

Doug Buchanan, Area Manager at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “With hot and dry weather, usually comes an increase in accidental fires. It’s more likely barbeques and bonfires will become out of control and they can rapidly escalate into wildfires, leading to greater demand on emergency services. We need your help to prevent these outdoor fires by following our top tips.

“It is also important to stay safe around water. Whilst it may be tempting, it is strongly advised not to enter lakes or rivers as cold water shock can be fatal. It is much safer to find other ways to keep cool and enjoy the summer weather.”

Further messages from services may follow over the weekend.


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