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Do not call 111 – unless you have to


Wellington Free Ambulance is asking residents to consider other means of treatment. PHOTO/FILE

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An earlier than expected spike in 111 calls has Wairarapa’s first responders urging the public to use discretion when seeking medical treatment.

Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] said winter illnesses and the ongoing pandemic were putting pressure on the service, which serves the Greater Wellington Region and Wairarapa.

It said a spike in calls was expected each winter. However, staff were responding to an increased number of calls much earlier than expected.

WFA said the demand was impacting both the clinical communications centre and frontline emergency staff.

A WFA spokesperson said the Wairarapa ambulance fleet had attended significantly more incidents in the first half of this year than 2021.

The number of incidents attended between March and June 2022 in Wairarapa was up at least 13 per cent each month, compared to the same four-month period in 2021.

WFA said there were about 2000 daily calls nationally in June, approaching similar numbers to the peak omicron surge in March.

Wellington Free Ambulance said it was asking Greater Wellington and Wairarapa residents to consider other means of treatment for non-life-threatening situations.

It urged people to contact their GP or seek help from Healthline.

“This will mean emergency ambulance responses can be focused where people need help the most.

Wairarapa GPs, however, are also “flat-out”, with a Martinborough-based GP recently reporting working 12-hour days.

WFA head of emergency Kate Worthington said the ambulance service was committed to the community emergency situations but was asking for the public’s help.

“Please consider other options before phoning 111 if your situation is not immediately life-threatening,” she said.

She said the increased demand for the service could lead to delays when phoning 111, but she asked people to stay on the line.

Worthington said people who were not in life-threatening situations would receive a call back from a clinical paramedic advisor or registered nurse.

“Anyone with severe chest pain or difficulty breathing or life-threatening accident-related injuries should not hesitate to call 111.

“These are the types of incidents we want to ensure our resources can respond to in these times of intense demand,” Worthington said.

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