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Ambulance figures show rise in calls due to alcohol

In 2016, an average of 14 ambulances per day were called for alcohol intoxication in Western Australia. This figure is up from the year before and represents an 11 per cent increase since 2014.

The statewide ambulance call-out figures, released by St John Ambulance WA and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, show there was a total of 5063 ambulance requests related to alcohol in 2016, up from 4903 alcohol call-outs in 2015 and 4552 recorded in 2014. The 2016 calls resulted in 3239 people being taken to hospital.

The data also revealed there were more young people who required urgent medical assistance due to alcohol intoxication, with 465 cases of young people aged 18-and-younger – including two aged under 12 – compared to a total of 399 call-outs in 2015.

St John Ambulance WA metropolitan ambulance general manager James Sherriff said the worst thing about this type of behaviour is that its avoidable.

“Alcohol can cause a lot of harm for those in the younger age group and it can cause lasting brain changes, affecting mood, ability to learn and so on," Sherriff said. "We’d encourage parents to educate their children more about the dangers of using alcohol.”

McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth executive officer Julia Stafford said while the initial findings of the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey released this month included welcome news that more young people are choosing not to drink, are delaying starting to drink and that fewer are drinking at risky levels, these new figures highlight that governments and communities must not get complacent.

“I would urge the WA government to ensure that reducing harm from alcohol remains a priority, particularly as they draft reforms to WA’s liquor laws,” Stafford said. "We welcome the government’s ongoing commitment to informing parents and others that no one should provide alcohol to under 18s."

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