GO out and enjoy yourself this Christmas but leave the car keys at home.
That is the message of paramedic John Ayling as the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SCAS) backs our Steer Clear campaign.
Dozens of the city’s watering holes have already signed up to the initiative and will offer free soft drinks to designated drivers during the Christmas and new year party season.
Mr Ayling, who has been a paramedic for eight years, has first hand experience of the devastating impact drink-driving has on lives.
He and his team of colleagues at the Portsmouth ambulance station, including paramedics Alison Good and Annalies Beard are at the scene of an emergency within minutes.
‘To be honest you deal with the scene as you would deal with any incident – whether alcohol was involved or not’, said Mr Ayling.
‘But the sadness comes in afterwards when you realise alcohol may have been the cause.
‘One incident that sticks in my mind was a while back now.
‘Two young adults were in a car that was hit head on by a vehicle driven by someone who was drink-driving.
‘They didn’t go home that night – they died at the scene.
‘Any member of the NHS would feel good about The News backing any approach that saves a life, or the lives of a family being ruined forever.’
SCAS area manager Neil Cook said the service fully supports Steer Clear.
He said: ‘Our crews all too often see the tragic results experienced by those embroiled in the aftermath of incidents involving drink-drivers.
‘This time of year often generates an increase in those prepared to take the risk with their lives, the lives of their families and the lives of others.
‘Drink-drivers face losing their driving licence or indeed their livelihood
‘I would encourage anyone considering drinking to keep their head clear and steer clear this Christmas.’