May 31, 2017
Freezing conditions during the winter, including black ice and hazardous driving conditions, can delay an ambulance response. It’s a common problem during the winter months, especially in more rural areas where gritters and snow ploughs often leave minor roads untreated and hazardous as the focus is on keeping the main routes clear.
However, a report has found that the same kind of delays can occur during warmer weather too. Statistics show that a sudden heatwave can often trigger a rapid spike in 999 calls due to respiratory issues, heart conditions and heatstroke. With ambulances trying to cover an increase in the cases of emergency call outs brought on by hot weather, their response time can increase considerably when the temperature starts to rise.
“Heatwaves and coldwaves place increasing strain on ambulance services.”
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham pin-pointed the correlation between increases in temperatures and ambulance response times. With many ambulance services struggling due to stretched budgets, they simply can’t cope with an increase in calls. However researchers suggest that weather forecasts should be taken into account when planning how many crews need to be on the road on any day. Currently ambulance services base their vehicle numbers on statistics covering what happened on the same day over the previous three years.
A spokesman from the university commented: “Heatwaves and coldwaves place increasing strain on ambulance services. Every service around the country should have its own bespoke weather forecast so that the number of crews can be geared to the likely demand.”
London Ambulance Service
A second study by the London Ambulance service backed up the findings from the University of Birmingham. It showed that on cold days there was a 20% drop in efficiency, leading to delays in response times. During warm days, when the temperature was over 20ºC, there was an 8.2% decline in efficiency, again leading to delays in getting to emergency calls.