Another night... another nightmare on Portsmouth’s streets

ACTION Paramedics attend to a casualty in Commercial Road during a Friday night shift in Portsmouth city centre
ACTION Paramedics attend to a casualty in Commercial Road during a Friday night shift in Portsmouth city centre

Community health day planned to educate residents

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LYING face down on the pavement surrounded by chips and coffee dropped on the ground, lies a drunken man.

The 21-year-old is barely conscious after drinking himself into a stupor in Commercial Road, Portsmouth.

1/11/11  PM''Night shift Ambulance crew, pictured at the Eastney station. L-R Richard Garment - Paramedic and John Ayling - Paramedic Team Leader''Picture: Paul Jacobs (114002-1)

1/11/11 PM''Night shift Ambulance crew, pictured at the Eastney station. L-R Richard Garment - Paramedic and John Ayling - Paramedic Team Leader''Picture: Paul Jacobs (114002-1)

But it’s not a one-off.

Paramedics say this is a scene that is becoming frighteningly too common and is taking them away from more important call-outs.

The News went out with paramedics for a night to see how, when things get out of control, it’s the emergency services that are left picking up the pieces.

‘Nothing surprises us now,’ said John Ayling, a paramedic for South Central Ambulance Service.

‘If you pick someone up drunk at 11am you don’t think “blimey what have you been up to?”

‘If that had happened 20 years ago, it was questioned.

‘Now it just seems part of our culture and it’s acceptable.’

Figures released following a Freedom of Information Act reveal that from 2009-2010, 534 people were taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital’s emergency department because of alcohol.

And this figure rose to 570 the year after.

This year statistics for April through to September show 331 people have been taken in – with 134 of these needing to stay in hospital overnight.

As part of Alcohol Awareness Week we’re looking at the impact excessive boozing has in Portsmouth.

John, 39, who is based in Portsmouth Ambulance Station, Eastern Road, has been a paramedic for eight years.

He said: ‘People get caught up in the moment and binge drink.

‘You think you know your limit based on how much you’ve had on another night.

‘It takes a sensible person to realise they’ve reached their limit and say no.

‘We will treat anyone that needs help – we’re not here to judge.

‘But often we can get verbal or even physical abuse, which we should not have to put up with.

‘A lot of alcohol-related incidents could be prevented if people drank in moderation.

‘You also get issues with long-term chronic problems.

‘The body is not designed to take excessive alcohol, so people start to develop chronic problems.’

In a bid to tackle the issue the Specialist Alcohol Nurse Service at QA, has been set up.

It takes referrals of patients with drink problems from GPs, clinics or the hospital, and aims to put them on a care plan to stop them going into A and E.

Sue Atkins, sister and team leader of the service, said: ‘We want to breakdown the cycle of alcohol admissions to QA.

‘We give information and people make a decision.’