As 2020 draws to a close St John asks everyone to stay safe as they travel throughout the country, taking advantage of the freedom we are so lucky to experience in New Zealand.

At this time of year our ambulance officers see many car crashes that could have been avoided by driving to the conditions, taking regular breaks and not being distracted. Make sure you watch out for emergency vehicles travelling under lights and sirens and pull over to let them pass.

St John ambulance officers also respond to numerous water incidents over the summer. It is important to take care in and on the water and do not swim alone.

Dan Ohs, St John Deputy Chief Executive - Ambulance Operations says last year St John responded to nearly 1,000 incidents on Christmas day with the most common callouts being falls, breathing problems and chest pain. During the summer peak, St John 111 emergency call handlers receive more than 1,800 calls in a day.

“The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for emergency services, and we will respond as soon as possible to people in a life-threatening condition. If your condition is not urgent, please be patient as there may be a delay in responding.”

“We are also pleading with people to respect our ambulance officers as they go about their critical work. Assaults on paramedics increase over the holiday period and it is never okay to assault our staff who are simply there to help.”

This year St John also has a COVID-19 holiday message to keep all New Zealanders safe. Make sure you scan QR codes wherever you go, turn on Bluetooth tracing, wash your hands and stay home if you are sick.

Here are some other helpful tips:

• Keep safe around water, please wear life jackets when boating and make sure to supervise children at the beach or swimming pool.
• Be sun smart! Slip, slop, slap, and wrap!
• A pre-existing medical condition can quickly become an emergency if regular medicine isn’t available. Remember to stock up on your prescriptions before going on holiday.
• St John frontline ambulance officers all too often attend incidents caused by too much alcohol. Drink responsibly this summer. Find our top tips for treating dehydration here.
• Make sure little ones are not playing near the barbeque and that ‘big ones’ are playing safely. Find our top tips for treating burns here.
• Remember to keep batteries from Christmas gifts away from children to avoid swallowing. The battery can become lodged in the esophagus with dangerous results. See our choking first aid advice here.
• Familiarise yourself with your location when on holiday. Know your exact address in case you need to call for help.
• Be prepared, travel with a St John first aid kit and download the free St John CPR app here.

St John hopes everyone gets some time to relax over the holidays. Look after yourself, your friends and family.

Free health advice is available from registered nurses, 24/7 through the Healthline number, 0800 611 116. Always call 111 in an emergency.

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