Friday 09 December, 2022: With Mad Friday, or Black-Eye Friday fast approaching on December 16, St John Ambulance volunteers are reassuring those keen to party and celebrate they will be there, out in force, looking after people if needed, as they are every day of the year.    

Mad Friday, as it has become known, is one of the NHS’s busiest nights of the year for treating alcohol related illness or injury, as many of us go out to celebrate pay day and the last working Friday before the Christmas break.    

This year will be the first time many of us will celebrate the festive season with colleagues after two years due to lockdown.   

St John will be operating its Night-Time Economy pop-up treatment centres throughout December on Friday and Saturday nights in Southampton, Milton Keynes, Stoke, Wolverhampton and Stourbridge. Clinically trained volunteers and healthcare professionals will be on hand providing treatment to anyone who needs it, plus a frontline ambulance available for any calls nearby or onward transport to hospital reducing pressure on NHS services.   

In the past 12 months, St John volunteers at Night-Time Economy locations which run at various locations, have helped 3,973 patients – (3,165 clinical) - with 625 taken to hospital by St John Ambulance crews. The majority of these were 18-25 year-olds.   

Luke Simmonds, Regional Community Response Lead for London and the South-East, said: “Our volunteers give their free time to help people enjoy a festive night out and support a wide range of issues from minor injuries, trips and falls to those with more serious medical issues such as seizures and chest pain. Sometimes all that is needed is welfare support to those who have had one too many drinks and just need a quiet space or help getting home safely. We integrate with our partners to focus on key initiatives such as the safety of women at night and supporting those who are vulnerable."   

He added, “By managing a lot of these patients at the treatment centre, we are reducing pressure on the NHS and helping make our town and city centres a safer place at night.”  

St John are advising people to follow these simple steps to keep themselves safe:  

  • Keep safe by staying together when you’re out with friends   
  • Pace yourself. Keep an eye on how much you and your friends are drinking.     
  • Many bars and nightclubs (and many universities) offer bottle ‘bungs’ like a cork which can prevent drinks being spiked – ask for one.   
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers, especially after you have had a few drinks   
  • If you think you or a friend has been spiked, make sure to alert bar or event staff and the police, including reporting any suspicious behaviour. Call 999 and get medical help, especially if there is a loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, or abnormal or impaired sight.    
  • If you have used recreational drugs or drunk a lot of alcohol, it’s important to tell your friends what you have taken and when and get medical help from event staff if you need it.    
  • Plan your route home—book taxis or download a rideshare app if trains or buses are not running.    
  • Most of all, look out for each other so you can end the night safely.      

As well as Night-Time Economy over December, St John Ambulance will be supporting hospitals up and down the country, supporting a falls service in Bexley in London and Wolverhampton and operating Community First Responder schemes with London Ambulance Service, West Midlands and South Western Ambulance Service. Homeless Health Services in Brighton and Hastings, Manchester and Bolton will continue to run over December.  

The charity’s current Ask Me campaign highlights the charity’s volunteers, and the positive impacts St John Ambulance has on their lives, plus the lives of the people they care for: