Ambulance chiefs in South Yorkshire are warning that inappropriate 999 calls on New Year's Eve could put lives at risk.
As bosses gear up for what is traditionally the busiest night of the year, they have issued a plea for people to only dial 999 for an ambulance for genuine emergencies.
Dr David Macklin, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, has warned that 999 calls for minor illnesses and injuries can put those with life-threatening conditions at risk by tying up 'valuable resources'.
On Boxing Day and December 27, over 4,300 emergency incidents were responded to, including 450 'life-threatening emergencies', with high numbers of patients suffering breathing difficulties, chest pains or falls.
Dr Macklin urged New Year's Eve revellers to think about how much they drink to avoid medics having to be called out.
He said: “Our staff and volunteers across all areas have been fantastic over the extended Christmas period, providing our normal emergency service.
“As always we strictly prioritise our calls to ensure that the people who most need our help receive it. I hope that everyone will understand that patients with life-threatening illnesses and serious injuries need to be cared for first.
“We don’t want to spoil anyone’s celebrations but we are asking those who are out and about on New Year’s Eve to think about how much alcohol they are consuming and stay safe to ensure they don’t put their own health or that of others in jeopardy. We want everyone to enjoy their night out safely and sensibly.
“People can help themselves to have an enjoyable night and stay well by being aware of how much they’re drinking, eating before they go out, planning ahead for transport home and looking after each other.
“Please leave your car at home, use public transport or arrange alternative transport such as a taxi. If you are going to a party and know you're going to be driving the next day, know your limits. You can choose lower strength drinks and drink single rather than double measures of spirits.
"It’s also a good idea to alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water and stop drinking alcohol well before the end of the night so you are free of the effects of alcohol by the following morning.
“Most of all please remember that the 999 number should only be used in serious medical emergencies and people should use the service responsibly so that ambulances are available for those who need them most.”
Dr Macklin added: “If New Year’s Eve this year mirrors those of previous years we will also have staff who find themselves on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse. This behaviour is completely unacceptable and we have a zero-tolerance approach so will prosecute anyone who is offensive towards our staff who are there to help people in need.”