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Paramedics on Bicycles Deployed to Meet Alcohol-Related Emergency Service Demand

It’s a taboo subject, but we’d be lying to ourselves if we didn’t recognise how many resources are being deployed to deal with alcohol-related problems. Here at OTI, we like to keep things light, fun, honest, and funny, but with the rise of drink-related emergencies, it’s important we address this issue.

Calls to emergency services of this nature are at all-time highs since Covid restrictions were lifted. A recent BBC article tells us that that there are more than 100 immediately life-threatening calls every day in Wales alone, and that paramedics are being sent out on bicycles to help deal with the demand.

These paramedics are known as the cycle response unit (CRU) and are used to be able to quickly and effectively make way through crowds and find the person in need. Of course, it’s incredibly difficult to get through such crowds with a big vehicle such as an ambulance, which is where the bikes come in. It’s common for alcohol to be present where large crowds gather, so this all seems to make sense.

When I was drinking, I visited A&E upwards of 10 times, for an abundance of different reasons. Others I know have done the same. A&E on a Saturday night, from my own experience, was largely filled with drunk people. Alcohol-related crimes and accidents range from domestic abuse, falls, fights, attempted suicides, sexual abuse, overdoses, heart attacks, car crashes, and more. The resources needed to deal with such situations are huge, and this number is only increasing.

Of course, these issues are complex, and not many emergency situations are clearly a direct result of alcohol. But the way that alcohol is interwoven into these issues is often ignored, as we are told by the media to continue enjoying pints at the pub and not to worry about it.

In my mind, there is no doubt that individual people are NOT the ones to blame here. People with alcohol-use disorders are struggling with an illness and an incredibly difficult situation. Most people with AUD need medical help, and they deserve the correct treatment. Even those who do not have a disorder have still been subject to years of conditioning that encourages alcohol consumption and normalises boozing. It’s no wonder many people end up in emergency situations because of this.

People who struggle with alcohol or get into drink-related emergencies are in need of this help, and I am in no way suggesting they shouldn’t be offered such. But considering how many resources are being used, surely those in charge are obliged to try and tackle this problem from the bottom-up, rather than dealing with things after the problems are already occurring.

Paramedics are working incredibly hard to keep people safe, but to what end? Unless alcohol advertising laws are tightened, people are taught not to normalise alcohol, and those who are disadvantaged in life are helped in the proper way, it seems these things will keep happening.

However, from dark and difficult situations rise complex, interesting people who are incredibly strong. For so many of us who have found our way to AF life, these moments may have been paramount. We can only hope that things change for the better, as we all deserve.

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