Ambulance bosses have launched an awareness drive to educate the public about the different responses and options of care when they dial 999.

The #Team999 camp-aign has been kick-started by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) after a recent survey which found people in the region had some misconceptions about what happens when they call 999.

Almost half — 47 per cent — of people believe an emergency ambulance will reach an elderly person in less than 10 minutes if they fall. However, ambulances are not always dispatched, and if they are, can take up to four hours to arrive when it is not a serious or life-threatening situation.

The #Team999 campaign aims to highlight the options open to the public when they call out an ambulance.

Bosses say an ambulance or a trip to hospital might not always be in the best interests of the patient.

There are 2,700 ambulance clinicians working in the North West, of whom Ruth Thomas, emergency medical technician, and paramedic Pete Sutcliffe are being profiled by the #Team999 campaign to raise public awareness of their role and skills within the ambulance service.

Ruth said: “There is no doubt that, in a medical emergency, it is essential to call 999 and get a trained member of the ambulance service on the scene as soon as possible.

“However, if it is a less urgent situation, people should think about the other options — for example taking alternative transport to the hospital, visiting their GP or local walk-in centre, calling NHS 111, or following self-care advice at home.

“It’s also worth noting that arriving at Accident and Emergency in an ambulance will not get you seen any faster than if you’d arrived there by other means.”

From April, 2012 to March, 2013, 10 of the 15 busiest days of the year for NWAS fell within the festive season.

The busiest day within this period was New Year’s Day, with 5,125 calls to the ambulance service — 70 per cent higher than the number of calls received on an average day of around 3,000.

The next highest was December 21, 2012, commonly known as ‘Mad Friday’, with 3,866 calls and Boxing Day 2012, with 3,799 calls.