Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Weather doubles ambulance calls

Caroline Becher
Caroline Becher said many patients had fractured femurs

Ambulance staff in Kent, Surrey and Sussex have dealt with double the usual number of 999 calls relating to falls since snowfalls hit the South East.

South East Coast Ambulance Service said more than 2,500 calls were received between Thursday and Sunday compared to 1,300 over the same period in 2008.

Caroline Becher, chief nurse at Ashford and St Peter's Hospital, Surrey, said many people were injured in falls.

"We have had a lot of people in with fractured femurs," she said.

"This is a really big bone in the upper part of the leg and it is really distressing to a young person.

Voluntary help

"But to an elderly person it is a huge setback.

"It is such a knock to their confidence to have to have major surgery under a general anaesthetic."

Voluntary organisations, including St John Ambulance and the Red Cross, helped the ambulance service to cope with the extra calls as well as voluntary community responders.

The ambulance service said it was grateful for the help offered by members of the public and to staff who worked extra shifts.

Some staff used their own 4x4 vehicles to get to patients and others walked in snow and ice to reach people in need of medical attention.

"There are many examples of crews going the extra mile for patients and of members of the public offering valuable assistance," said director of operations Sue Harris.

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