The county's ambulance service has thanked staff and volunteers for their hard work and dedication over the past year.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) also thanked the public for their continued support and for only using 999 in the event of an emergency.

People have been urged to use alternatives to 999, such as NHS 111 online or speaking to a GP or pharmacist, for non-emergency situations, particularly as the NHS is set to be under pressure throughout the winter months.

Secamb chief executive Simon Weldon said: "Since joining Secamb some eight months ago, I have been so impressed with commitment shown by our amazing staff and volunteers throughout another challenging year.

"This dedication is even more evident during the Christmas and New Year period when they spend time away from families and friends to keep us all safe and provide vital care.

"I am very proud to lead Secamb and I look forward to carrying on the work that has taken place over the past year to support all our staff and volunteers in being as best placed as possible to respond to the needs of the communities we serve.

"I thank the public for its continued support and urge everyone to use their ambulance service and the wider NHS wisely in the weeks and months ahead."

People are urged to only call 999 in an emergency to help the ambulance service ease demand. Emergency incidents can include a heart attack, sudden unexplained shortness of breath, heavy bleeding, unconsciousness and traumatic back, spinal or neck pain.

People should also call an ambulance if a patient's illness or injury is life-threatening, if their injury may become worse or life-threatening on the way to hospital or if the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service.

For non-emergency situations, help and advice is available via NHS 111 online at or by calling 111.

Useful advice is also available by speaking to a local community pharmacist.