Ambulance service chiefs have issued a stark warning after a spate of 999 callouts after people took legal highs - including one in Sunderland.
Since Friday, the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) says it hasdealt with 20 incidents – including one cardiac arrest - bringing the total since in 2016 to 292 calls.
Individuals who have used legal highs have suffered symptoms ranging from seizures, unconsciousness, shortness of breath, vomiting, aggression, palpitations, agitation and foaming at the mouth.
One case occured in Sunderland, while most of the incidents happened in the West End area of Newcastle.
There have also been cases in Blyth, in North Tyneside, and Gateshead.
Head of Resilience and Special Operations at NEAS, Simon Swallow, said: “There have been a worrying number of calls for patients experiencing potential life-threatening symptoms as a result of taking legal highs.
“These so-called legal highs are not safe to use and carry a serious health risk.
“The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used before in drugs for human consumption and these incidents in Newcastle are putting people’s lives at risk.
“We are urging people not to take these so-called legal highs as they are putting their own lives in danger and also endangering the lives of others because these calls are potentially delaying our response to someone else who is suffering a heart attack or other life-threatening condition.”