PEOPLE were today urged to think carefully before calling 999 over the Christmas and new year holiday.

West Yorkshire's ambulance service says it is vital that people who do not need an ambulance do not call on the emergency services.

A spokesman said: "Last weekend saw a 30% increase in genuine calls to the service, compared to the same period the previous weekend.

"It is vital we get to these calls, where a life is at risk, really quickly."

Genuine emergencies include difficulty breathing, heavy blood loss, unconsciousness, chest pains, broken bones, a suspected heart attack, serious accident or head injuries.

Emergency medical dispatcher Carmen Glancy has been providing advice, reassurance and care to callers in their hour of need for seven years.

She said it was disheartening when callers insisted on emergency crews being dispatched for minor ailments, such as period pains and a broken fingernail - or even a taxi home.

Carmen added: "People think we make these stories up, but we don't. The other day a colleague of mine took a call from a woman who just wanted to know her own mobile phone number.

"She may have only taken up our time for a few minutes. But a few minutes to someone in a genuine emergency can mean the difference between life and death."

Unless people have a genuine emergency they are asked to consider if their medical needs can be best dealt with by a pharmacist, calling NHS Direct or contacting their GP.

NHS Direct can be contacted on 0845 4647 or people can go online for health information at www.nhs