AN ambulance trust is urging people to use 999 responsibly this New Year’s Eve as it prepares to manage high levels of demand.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) experienced significant pressure over the Christmas period and is expecting to be very busy again this weekend.

On Christmas Day it handled more than 3,200 calls with this increasing to more than 3,600 calls on Boxing Day.

Life-threatening and serious calls will be prioritised and people in a less serious condition are likely to wait for an ambulance response when demand is high.

Last year, ambulance crews responded to more than 600 emergency calls in the six hours between 10pm on December 31 and 4am on January 1. During the same period, staff in the trust’s emergency operations centres handled hundreds more calls at an average rate of approximately three a minute.

These included providing advice over the phone or directing callers to another part of the health service.

Secamb is calling on people to have fun but stay safe.

Executive director of operations Joe Garcia said: “We’re very proud of the efforts of all our staff in both our 999 and 111 centres and out on the road.

“We’d ask the public for their continued support now and for New Year’s Eve.

“We’re asking people to consider alternatives to dialling 999 when they’re not faced with a life-threatening or serious emergency.”