The ambulance service has asked people to think carefully before calling 999 and to only do so in the case of a real emergency.
As the winter months draw in and coronavirus cases continue to increase, SWASFT continues to receive an unprecedented demand for their services across the region.
A SWASFT spokesperson said: “We are already experiencing our highest ever demand for emergency and other services this season.
“So, we are asking everyone’s help in using 999 correctly and offering some simple precautions to keep us all safe as wintery weather sets in.
“In order that we can help the most in need patients with time-critical, life threatening conditions as soon as possible, we are asking that everyone ensures they make the most of the emergency ambulance service.
“This means please think carefully before calling 999 and ask yourself: ‘Is it a real emergency?’ People should always call 999 if someone has stopped breathing, has severe chest pain, is choking, may be having a stroke, has serious blood loss, or is unconscious.
“Calling for an ambulance when it is not absolutely necessary puts additional pressure on our limited resources, and may mean we cannot reach those who are most in need.
“If you do become unwell or suffer a minor injury, contact your GP, pharmacist or walk-in health centre. For less serious conditions people could phone NHS 111, or contact NHS 111 online This helps keep the 999 service free for genuine life-threatening emergencies.”
Emergency services have agreed to support one another this winter as the sector continues to face exceptional pressure as coronavirus cases continue to increase.
Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS), Avon and Somerset Police and the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) have joined forces to remind residents of safety advice, to increase safety in their homes, their local communities and when engaging in events and celebrations over the winter period.
Firefighters and police officers are committed to supporting fellow public sector colleagues by encouraging local residents to follow important safety advice in attempt to reduce increasing demands on the ambulance service.
Chief Fire Officer, Mick Crennell, said: “Our fight against coronavirus has been long, challenging and exhausting for everyone. As demand for our health service increases, it’s important for us as emergency services to come together to support one another, to keep our services strong and ultimately, keep local people safe.
“As a Service, we have committed support and mutual aid to SWASFT by providing blue light drivers to the ambulance service and our support does not stop there.
“We are keen to use our resources to engage with local residents to increase safety, decrease accidents and importantly, reduce demand on the ambulance service.”
Chief Constable Sarah Crew said: “Keeping people safe is at the heart of what we do in the emergency services. Communities are even safer when we all work together and that is what we have committed to as we enter this difficult winter period.
“Neighbourhoods with a strong sense of community are safer, happier places because people look out for one another.
“This winter, that’s more important than ever. By checking in with vulnerable family members, neighbours and friends, you can help to keep them safe and healthy.
“If you or someone you know needs more support, have a think about how to best access it. If there’s an immediate risk of harm, always call 999.
“If it’s not an emergency, all the services offer advice and reporting services online, or you can call the non-emergency numbers 111 for the NHS or 101 for police. This frees up 999 services so we can be there for you when you really need us.”
PCC Mark Shelford added: “Our emergency services are there to help local residents and I know will continue to exceed expectations in supporting communities. However, it’s going to be a tough winter with increasing pressure on our health services and working together is essential.
“It goes without saying that if communities need emergency service help, please do phone or report online, but let’s also be especially vigilant about general safety around the home and workplace as well as taking the necessary precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus.
“These small actions will help take some of the pressure off our emergency services and reduce demand.”
In an emergency, contact 999 and ask for the Service you require, if it is a non-emergency, you can contact all services online or by calling 111 for the NHS or 101 for the police.