Air pollution increases 999 calls


Friday 4th April 2014 – 10.50am – Steve Parry

With unpleasant weather conditions persisting across much of the region this week, West Midlands Ambulance Service has experienced moderate increases in calls as a result of the pollution.

The Trust has seen an increase in 999 calls to patients with chest pain and breathing problems over the last three days resulting in an increase in overall demand. Calls to breathing problems and chest pain have increased predominantly in Staffordshire and Birmingham.

Breathing problems normally account for 11% of our total 999 calls but this has increased to 12%. Similarly, 10.5% of our total emergency calls are to chest pain but a 2.5% increase this week has resulted in this accounting to 13% of our total 999 calls.

WMAS medical director, Dr Andrew Carson said: “A prolonged period of these conditions poses real difficulties to those patients with emphysema, asthma and long term breathing problems.

“Air pollution and smog can make breathing difficult even for healthy individuals. That’s why we suggest people with respiratory illnesses should remain indoors as much as possible.

“It is vital that we get to patients needing our help as quickly as possible and therefore ask the public to assist us by only calling 999 in life threatening situations. For less urgent health advice, please call 111.”

Weather forecasters are suggesting pollution over parts of the UK could be blown away later today.


Editor Notes:

Useful advice at this time:

  • Those with existing lung and heart conditions may find their symptoms worsen and should stay indoors wherever possible until pollution levels decrease.
  • Healthy people may experience minor symptoms such as a sore throat or a tickly cough
  • Avoid strenuous activity, especially outdoors, to reduce exposure and symptoms.

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