A STUDENT nurse too drunk to stand, two men who had been attacked and a woman needing a safe place to wait for a lift were among the diverse cases dealt with by paramedics based in Oxford city centre this weekend.

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South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) will be based in Oxford on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the Christmas period, plus New Years' Eve, to make sure those enjoying the festive season stay safe.

Oxford Mail:

The aim is to take pressure off the John Radcliffe Hospital's already-stretched emergency department and target limited ambulance resources where they can be most effective.

The Oxford Mail joined the SOS service team, which includes paramedics, emergency care assistants and community first responders, on Saturday night at their treatment hub in Bonn Square, opposite the Westgate Centre.

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Paramedic Craig Heigold, who heads the project and has been involved since its creation in 2014, said, despite funding this year coming as part of NHS England’s Alcohol Intoxication Management Services, dealing with drunk people was only part of the job.

Oxford Mail:

Craig Heigold, head of the Oxford SOS service

He explained: "No two nights are the same. Yesterday we had a guy saying someone had threatened him with a knife and we were able to pass that on to police. A girl also came to us after deciding she no longer wanted to go home with a boy after a night out."

He added the response from revellers was 'overwhelmingly positive', saying: “You do get some people asking us why the NHS is spending money on this for people who have got themselves drunk.

“It means though that rather than our ambulances having to attend each call we can be here to assess incidents in the city centre, avoiding unnecessary 999 calls or trips to the JR."


Things are quiet as the team set up at 10.15pm and for the first couple of hours it is mostly greeting party-goers and letting them know where they will be until 5.15am. One girl stops at the ambulance early on saying she has been abandoned by her friend and is directed towards the ambulance so she can call for a lift from her parents in safety.

Oxford Mail:

Around12.30am there is a burst of activity when police arrive with two men who have been attacked while waiting for a taxi.

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The SOS team take them into their ambulance to treat a cup lip and bloody nose but as the pair need sutures they are taken to the John Radcliffe by the team's first responders, avoiding two ambulances needing to be called out. Almost immediately after a student nurse who is too drunk to stand is brought to the hub by her friends, with the team keeping an eye on her while she sobers up.

Oxford Mail:

Increased funding this year means the service will continue throughout January.

Mr Heigold said 'ideally' the Oxford SOS service would be year-round alternating between weekends in the city centre and other areas, such as Cowley Road on a Wednesday for student nights, adding: "I think even just having us here helps to calm things down."