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West Yorkshire Police and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust have teamed up in Leeds to provide a ‘rapid response’ to alcohol-related incidents during Freshers’ Week.

Since Saturday (17 September), a police officer and an ambulance clinician have teamed up in a Yorkshire Ambulance Service Rapid Response Vehicle to provide assistance to late-night 999 calls about alcohol-related illnesses or injuries in the city centre, Hyde Park and Headingley areas.

The initiative has proved a success on busy weekend evenings in other cities in the region,the authorities say, and allows ambulance staff to provide early medical assessment and treatment to those who are injured while police officers deal with any anti-social behaviour or crime.

It also frees other police officers to focus on any other issues and Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff to deal with other medical emergencies in the area.

The partnership will involve clinicians from ambulance stations in the Leeds area and police officers from the City and Holbeck and North West Leeds Divisions.

On the first night, the Rapid Response Vehicle attended seven incidents. This included three assaults, a road traffic collision, and a drunken cyclist who needed medical assistance after riding his bike into a bus shelter. Of the seven incidents, six involved people who required hospital treatment.

Temporary Superintendent Vernon Francis, of the City and Holbeck Division, said: “Leeds is a very safe city but the fact is that there is traditionally a rise in incidents both the police and the ambulance service are called to during Freshers’ Week, simply because of the large increase in the number of people coming into the city.

“There is also the fact that excess alcohol does pose an issue during Freshers Week, which is something we already work closely with licensees in the city to address. This is partnership working at its best, because we can attend as many of these incidents as possible without tying up other police officers and ambulance staff from their usual duties, to ensure we continue to offer a first-class service.

Paul Mudd, Locality Director of A&E Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “Unfortunately, a lot of the 999 calls received in and around Leeds on evenings during Freshers’ Week are alcohol-related and are usually for those who have had too much to drink, fallen over, or got into a fight. Most of the time, these people only require treatment for minor cuts or bruises so the benefits of this scheme is that it allows ambulance staff to treat patients at the scene with the reassurance that the police are on hand to handle any difficult situations and keep public order.

“People who are injured are seen quicker, the police have a paramedic immediately on scene, the number of unnecessary trips to the hospital emergency department is reduced and our ambulances are left to deal with more serious emergencies. This scheme makes for a really good partnership.”

Statistics in a recent report by NHS Leeds estimated that the total value of the economic and social costs of alcohol-related harm in the district was around £438 million. This includes £25.4 million total costs to the NHS, and alcohol-related crime costing an estimated £124.5m.



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