Outlawed drugs are putting people's lives at risk say ambulance chiefs

Ambulance chiefs received a dozen 999 calls yesterday to people who had taken what used to be 'legal highs'.
Ambulance chiefs received a dozen 999 calls yesterday to people who had taken what used to be 'legal highs'.

Ambulance chiefs have warned people they are risking their lives by taking what were 'legal highs'.

The warning by the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) came after a spike in the number of patients calling for emergency help after taking now-banned substances over the past 24 hours.

Earlier this year, the NHS Foundation Trust reported a marked growth of 999 calls to people who had life-threatening symptoms as a result of taking psychoactive substances which were then known as ‘legal highs’.

Ambulances were requested for hundreds of incidents where individuals who had used the drugs had suffered symptoms ranging from seizures, unconsciousness, shortness of breath, vomiting, aggression, palpitations, agitation and foaming at the mouth.

The numbers of incidents seemed to have dropped since the law was changed, but yesterday 12 Newcastle patients rang 999 for an ambulance for their serious conditions and six were taken to hospital.

Police said the drugs responsible are likely to be named Spice, Killer Smeg and SpongeBob.

NEAS Chief Operating Officer Paul Liversidge said: “These substances are not safe to use and carry a serious health risk.

"The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used before in drugs for human consumption, and these incidents in Newcastle are putting people’s lives at risk.”

“As a service, we don’t discriminate - we will attend anyone who is poorly enough to need our help.

"However, we are urging people NOT to take these drugs, as they are putting their own lives in danger and also endangering the lives of others, because these calls are potentially delaying our response to someone else who is suffering a heart attack or other life-threatening condition.”