Holiday wish list for paramedics

By Corin Kelly
Friday, 11 December, 2015


While most of us spend the Christmas holidays relaxing and looking forward to a day of celebration, paramedics are on high alert. Medical emergencies occur throughout the year but Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for paramedics and other emergency personnel.
Prince of Wales Hospital emergency department director Dr Michael Golding said emergency department presentations could jump by 40 per cent over the festive period. With this in mind we have put together some items that will be at the top of most paramedics wish list this Christmas.
LESS PUDDING
Heart-related deaths increase by 5 percent during the holiday season with fatal heart attacks peaking on Christmas, boxing day and New Year’s Day. A person may have symptoms of cardiovascular disease such as abdominal or chest discomfort which they can interpret as being indigestion or overeating, but in fact it could be cardiac ischemia.
Cardiac ischemia can lead to more heart damage if not treated quickly. Insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle can lead to congestive heart failure, end-stage heart disease and even death. Overeating and stress typically associated with the holiday season could exacerbate existing conditions.
LESS ALCOHOL
The over-consumption of alcohol is responsible for a large number of people seeking emergency medical assistance over the Christmas period. People can become so intoxicated that they are unable to walk or talk, they can lapse into unconsciousness and sometimes die.
Intoxication is a common reason for paramedics to be called out and is just one of a long list of preventable situations that increase the work load on emergency service personnel in the holidays.
NEW TOYS - PARENTAL SUPERVISION INCLUDED
New toys present a safety hazard at Christmas time with children trying out new equipment without adult supervision. Preventable mishaps with Christmas toys result in ambulance call-outs that put excess pressure on already stretched emergency services.
In years past, NSW Ambulance Service has issued a simple plea for families to watch out for their children during the Christmas holidays and not to over-extend themselves.
"Children should wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads when they are testing out their new toys," the service said.
"This safety gear will keep children happy and safe with their new presents, and out of the back of an ambulance."
CARE AND CONCERN
And while Christmas can be a time for families to come together and enjoy the festivities, it can also be a time of intense loneliness for many people. Depression made worse by loneliness and separation from family can cause people to require medical assistance over this period. Suicide is also of particular concern following Christmas and into the New Year holiday
NSW ambulance urges people to "check on the welfare of friends or family who may be experiencing difficulties at this time of year."
References
Laura Aubusson. Tips to stay safe and out of the emergency department this festive season. News Local. Dec 19, 2014. Read the full story.
Sanaone R et al. The Clinical Effect of Christmas on Psycopathology. Innov Clin Neurosci. 2011 Dec; 8(12): 10–13.

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