Black Friday: Emergency crews braced for festive night
Emergency services across Wales are preparing for one of the busiest nights of the year as revellers celebrate the start of the Christmas break.
Dubbed "Black Friday" or "Mad Friday", it is the last Friday before Christmas and is traditionally a popular night for office parties.
It has gained a reputation as among the busiest nights of the year for pubs, restaurants, police and paramedics.
Officers are urging partygoers to drink responsibly.
Specialist nurses will be deployed as usual at the weekend alcohol treatment centre at Ebenezer Church in Cardiff city centre, although health officials expect it to be busier than normal.
The centre aims to ease the pressure on the Welsh Ambulance Service and local A&E departments.
Police advice for revellers
- If you feel drunk, light headed or ill after just a few drinks, seek help
- If you believe your drink has been spiked contact the police immediately on 999
- Don't drink and drive
- Don't get into a car with someone who is under the influence of drink or drugs
- Source: Dyfed-Powys Police
In 2012, 44 people were treated by St John Wales volunteers in Cardiff during the festive period - the most common complaints were intoxication, head wounds and cuts.
Only a small percentage needed further hospital treatment, which saved hours of treatment time at A&E, the charity said.
Taxi marshals will be used in Rhyl, in Denbighshire, on Friday, Saturday and December 31, to help keep customers and taxi drivers safe.
North Wales Police will hand out bottled water in towns in Gwynedd to help drinkers reduce the effects of alcohol.
Officers will also carry out vehicle checks during the evening and early morning to prevent and deter drink-driving.
Ambulance Trust's plea to drinkers
The Welsh Ambulance Service service took 1,124 calls on Black Friday last year, compared to 811 calls on the same night in 2011 and 1,242 calls in 2010.
Staff receive roughly 750 calls on a typical Friday night.
Richard Lee, head of clinical services for the Trust, is urging partygoers to drink responsibly.
He said: "We are not killjoys but we are asking the public to drink responsibly and enjoy themselves safely.
"The safest way to enjoy alcohol is not to drink on an empty stomach, alternate water and soft drinks with alcoholic ones. Please look after your friends and make sure that you have planned a way of getting home at the end of your night out."
The Trust will have triage centres in Bangor, Rhyl, Wrexham, Swansea, Cardiff and Gwent.
Safer Swansea and Neath Port Talbot Partnerships are continuing to promote the One Punch Ruins Lives campaign, which aims to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence by educating people about the possible consequences of violence.
South Wales Police Chief Supt Julian Williams, said: "One stupid punch could seriously impact on someone's future so the best thing to do if faced with aggression or violence is to be the bigger person and walk away."
Additional officers will be deployed in Gwent to help deal with extra people on the streets on Friday.
Gwent Police Chief Insp Martyn Smith said officers would be there in a supportive role but would take action where needed.
"Whilst we are clear that our role will be to help people have a safe and enjoyable evening, I would remind anyone who is out and intent on causing any problems for others we won't tolerate any anti-social or threatening behaviour," he said.
"Anyone who causes problems for other revellers or the emergency services can expect to spend the night in custody."