Police and paramedics team up to keep Christmas nights out safe

North East Ambulance Service paramedics will team up with Northumbria Police officers this Christmas and New Year to help partygoers in Sunderland city centre.
North East Ambulance Service paramedics will team up with Northumbria Police officers this Christmas and New Year to help partygoers in Sunderland city centre.

Blues will work in twos this Christmas as police and paramedics team up to go to the aid of Sunderland’s city centre partygoers.

The Northumbria Police and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) will be working together on Wearside on what will be among the busiest nights of the year over coming weeks.

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.

Douglas McDougall

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

It will run from Saturday, Friday, December 22, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day after being introduced to enable a more co-ordinated response to incidents in that area, with the project to also run in Newcastle.

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.

Police have said they too see a spike in calls during the period within the city centres, with the decision to team up this year was made to ensure those most vulnerable receive the best support and so the organisations can deliver a good service as they face an increase in demand.

Northumbria police has added anyone with concerns could approach officers on duty to pass on their worries.

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.”

Operation Ginger is just one of the partnership initiatives between police and the ambulance service during the busy winter period.

The Safe Haven van is located in the Bigg Market between 10pm and 4am on Friday and Saturday nights and is jointly funded by NEAS and the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird.

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.

Additional resources are also being put in at taxi ranks and other key locations, with briefings being carried out for door staff and licensees, while rangers will also be out in Newcastle.