Police cars and vans are being used as makeshift ambulances to take casualties to hospital on busy nights – with police chiefs predicting the system may become the norm.
Ambulance Service bosses have called on South Yorkshire Police to take the strain when paramedics are struggling to cope with demand.
Those with life-threatening conditions are taken to hospital by ambulance – but police vehicles have been sent for those with less serious illnesses or injuries.
Police chiefs said Halloween was particularly busy – and is ‘becoming like New Year’s Eve’.
Chief Constable David Crompton said budget cuts to emergency services meant they will have to work together to share the burden.
He said the police service is always the ‘service of last resort’ – the one everyone turns to in an emergency.
“Halloween is the equivalent of New Year’s Eve now in terms of how busy it gets, but we just go out there and get on with it, which this year included helping out the ambulance service when it ran out of resources,” he said.
“We were asked to take less urgent casualties to hospital and, even though it was another pressure, we just got on with it without a fuss.
“It got to the point where the ambulance service could respond only to the most serious cases.
“This is another example of the fact that, no matter what other agencies do, the buck always stops with us – but we accept that and I think it is important the public know we just get on with it.
“There are ways emergency services and partners can work together better, and there is no doubt everyone is under pressure at peak times, so we do have to look closer at how we work together more in the future when we all have less money.
“Some of that is already under way, and we are all looking at how we can be more efficient.”
A spokeswoman for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust confirmed: “We were extremely busy on the night of Halloween, particularly in the early hours of Saturday, November 1.”
Last week it was revealed Maltby police station is to be shared with firefighters to avoid both services having to pay for separate buildings.
Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings said he supports the idea of sharing buildings.
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