Coronavirus: London Ambulance chief pleas public to help by calling only if necessary

18 March 2020, 10:33

By Fiona Jones

London Ambulance Service chief made a plea to the public to help the emergency services by only calling 999 in a life-threatening situation.

Garrett Emmerson said, unsurprisingly, that both the 999 and 111 services are "fantastically busy" at this time and in the last few days they have had a record-breaking amount of calls.

Normally a busy day for the 999 service is around 5000 calls but during this coronavirus outbreak over 8000 calls a day are being taken.

"We are really urging people to only phone the 999 service if it is an absolutely life-threatening emergency," Mr Emmerson said.

He advised that phone up the 111 hotline, those with coronavirus symptoms should visit the NHS website for guidance.

The London Ambulance chief said his priority is to keep phone lines open for those who cannot access the internet, including elderly people who may be more at risk.

"Really just a plea for people to help us keep everybody safe," Mr Emmerson said.

Another "big challenge" for the London Ambulance Service is the logistics of deep cleaning the ambulances after taking a coronavirus patient to hospital, however the government's advice during the delay phase will make these logistics easier.

"It is a fast changing situation and we believe it'll continue to be."