Ambulance chiefs field 999 calls from people stung by bees and wasps

PUBLISHED: 11:53 09 August 2013 | UPDATED: 11:58 09 August 2013

A wasp (from the Flickr account of Dzipi)

A wasp (from the Flickr account of Dzipi)

Geert Premereur

THINK twice before dialling 999 if you have been stung by a bee or a wasp.

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That is the message from the East of England Ambulance service after 15 people called the emergency number on August 7, following an unpleasant insect incident.

The service confirmed none of the calls were to people who had suffered a severe allergic reaction to a sting and no one needed hospital treatment.

Marcus Bailey, consultant paramedic, said: “Most insect bites and stings, although they can be painful, are not dangerous and can be treated at home.

In order to help reduce the volume of 999 calls and to improve the availability of ambulances to those members of the public who are suffering from serious illnesses and injuries, we’re urging people to consider whether their sting is really an emergency.

“In the majority of cases, stings can be treated at home in the first instant.

“If your symptoms persist over several days then we’d advise you to contact your GP. “Alternatively your local pharmacist may be able to advise you further on what treatment would be best for you.”

The service issued some basic tips on how to treat bites and stings at home to take the weight off paramedics.

Mr Bailey said: “To treat a bite or sting at home, try washing it with water and applying a cold compress to help reduce itchiness and swelling.

“For bee stings, you can remove the sting itself with tweezers. If it’s painful, over-the-counter tablets such as antihistamines and paracetamol can help.

“There are also creams and sprays available at the pharmacist.

“Naturally there are some cases when someone will suffer a severe allergic reaction to a sting. If there is swelling or itching anywhere else on the body after being bitten or stung, or if the person is wheezing or have difficulty swallowing, they may need emergency medical treatment so it’s vital in these cases that 999 is dialled as soon as possible.”


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