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  1. ITV Report

Emergency services join forces to keep Christmas partygoers safe

Police and paramedics are set to go on shift together. Photo: PA Images

Police and paramedics are set to go on shift together for the first time, as part of a joint operation to keep partygoers safe during the busy festive period.

Emergency services will be running the operation in Newcastle and Sunderland city centres on some of the busiest nights for the emergency services over the coming weeks.

A paramedic will join a police officer in an ambulance rapid response vehicle in the city centre, so that they can respond to certain incidents together.

The operation will run on December 16th, December 22nd, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day after being introduced to enable a more co-ordinated response to incidents in the city centre.

On the last Friday before Christmas in 2016, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) attended 501 incidents. Credit: ITV News

On the last Friday before Christmas in 2016, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) attended 501 incidents of which 94 were alcohol related.

There were around 250 more calls on that Friday night in comparison to a normal Friday.

Last New Year’s Eve, the service took 1,376 calls between 6pm and 6am and attended 636 incidents of which 159 incidents were related to alcohol.

Newcastle city centre Inspector, Steve Wykes is expecting hundreds of thousands of visitors to descend on the city:

There are a few key dates when we see a particular surge in visitors and so it is inevitable that on those nights we see a spike in calls to both us and our colleagues at the ambulance service.

"To ensure that we have a co-ordinated approach, and that vulnerable people receive the best support, we will continue to run this operation in the run up to Christmas.

"It is really valuable to have paramedics on patrol with us on these busy nights so that we can work together to ensure we still deliver a good service in the face of increased demand."

– Newcastle city centre Inspector, Steve Wykes
The Safe Haven van is also currently located in the Bigg Market between 10pm and 4am on Friday and Saturday nights. Credit: ITV News

Douglas McDougall, strategic head of operations, at NEAS, said: "During the festive period we are expecting to receive a high number of calls to our service, many of which are alcohol related:

“People under the influence of alcohol can be more difficult to assess over the phone and on arrival at a scene, their behaviour can be more unpredictable.

"People consuming a lot of alcohol are also more likely to injure themselves in the course of their evening and require medical support.

“We will be working closely with our partners to ensure people who are out in the city celebrating are able to safely enjoy themselves and use the emergency services wisely so that we have resources available to respond to 999 callers when they need us most.”

– Douglas McDougall, strategic head of operations, at NEAS

This operation is just one of a number of initiatives between police and the ambulance service during the busy winter period.

The Safe Haven van is also currently located in the Bigg Market between 10pm and 4am on Friday and Saturday nights. That was jointly funded by NEAS and the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.

St John's Ambulance will be based at the van along with paramedics and police officers to talk to people, pass on safety information and give medical assistance.

Over the festive period, taxi marshals will be based at the ranks on Newgate Street, Centre for Life and around the Bigg Market offering advice and helping people get home safely.

Police are also getting licensees and door staff involved from city centre bars and pubs by carrying out pre-shift safety briefings.

All of this work will be supplemented by Newcastle City Council NE1 Rangers who will carry our extra patrols across the city to keep people informed about what is going on in the city.