Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Saturday, 20 December 2008

'Black Friday' keeps crews busy

Ambulance staff take a patient in St Mary Street, Cardiff
Ambulance staff take a patient in St Mary Street, Cardiff

Emergency services around Wales have worked through one of their busiest nights of the year.

The last Friday before Christmas, known as "Black Friday", sees the number of people celebrating in towns at its highest.

But North Wales Police it was much quieter than past years, with the cold weather and credit crunch possible factors.

In Cardiff, paramedics staffed a facility at the Millennium Stadium.

Extra police patrols were also on duty in the capital.

South Wales Police also used Bluetooth technology to send warning messages to party-goers to raise awareness of the consequences of drinking too much.

Extra cells

Insp Tony Bishop from the force said Black Friday saw the number of people in the city centre "vastly increase", including many office workers who only go out there once a year.

Before the operation he said: "We've planned for this day for a number of weeks, we've increased our resources to match the number of people attending Cardiff city centre this evening.

Please treat them with dignity and respect as it's their Christmas as well
Alun Harris, ambulance service

"There are plenty of officers on the streets to give public reassurance and to detect and prevent those individuals who are intent on causing problems.

Extra police cells were also available if required.

As well as the Millennium Stadium facility, a mobile treatment centre was set up on nearby St Mary Street to treat people with minor injuries.

Volunteers from St John Cymru Wales helped to reduce pressure on paramedics and hospitals.

The organisation said only 15% of the people it treated in 2007 needed any further hospital treatment.

Mounted police in Cardiff
Police on horseback joined the operation in Cardiff

Alun Harris, from the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, asked people to use the emergency services responsibly.

"Traditionally, this time of year sees an increase in demand for the service we provide.

"This can place additional pressure on both frontline and control room staff."

"Extra staff are going to be on duty over the festive period, please treat them with dignity and respect as it's their Christmas as well."

In Blackwood, Caerphilly county, police worked with ambulance staff and volunteers at a medical centre in Market Place.

'Street angels'

Meanwhile, North Wales Police recruited volunteers from local churches to help patrol the town streets from 2100 to 0300 GMT.

The Llandudno "street angels" were issued with personal alarms, torches and radios and have been trained in first aid and conflict management.

The angels volunteered to help following advertisements in local churches.

Sgt Jonny Hill said the idea was to provide a "reassuring presence" for night visitors.

"They will deal with low level stuff, for example giving directions, calling for taxis for anyone who is drunk or in trouble and even handing out goodie bags to the late night revellers," he said.

In Wrexham, two extra rapid response vehicles were on duty and first aid volunteers were on stand-by to help paramedics.



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