AMBULANCE crews have warned that it is 'pot luck' whether an ambulance can get to you quickly.

Swindon-based paramedics have spoken of a “perfect storm” of challenges, as demand on 999 services rises.

The heroes in green talked of being asked to respond to more calls – picking up jobs that in the past would have been left to a GP.

One emergency care assistant said: “People expect that if you can buy a loaf of bread at three o’clock in the morning, why can’t you get your difficulty with breathing fixed?

“Twenty years ago you rang the ambulance when you were dying – you rang your GP when you were a little less than dying.”

Figures from the ambulance service show that demand on the service on Tuesday was up by 26 per cent compared to the same day last year.

One paramedic said: “Unless we have less people using the service and more people on the road, it’s not going to change.”

At any one time, there are typically 10 paramedic crews on duty around Swindon. Seven crews operate out of the double-crewed ambulances and there are another three fast responder cars.

One ambulance crew member said that, even with 10 crews, the service was often left stretched. It was “once in a blue moon” that all areas in Swindon would be covered, he said.

“It’s pot luck whether you’re going to get us quickly,” he said.

Call handlers based at South Western Ambulance Service’s Bristol control centre carefully triage calls, prioritising the most life threatening emergencies.

And a spokeswoman for the South Western Ambulance Service denied that getting an ambulance was “pot luck”.

She said: “All of our available resources are constantly and dynamically managed using a computer aided dispatch system to make sure the most appropriate vehicle is available and deployed to each emergency.”

Paramedics are reaching the most serious emergencies well within the eight minute target, she said. In Swindon, crews are excelling — hitting the target 78 per cent of the time,with an average response time of six minutes.

Yesterday, the Adver reported that a woman with a leg injury was left waiting for three hours on the pavement outside the Empire Cinema in Greenbridge.

The ambulance service have said that during that time Swindon paramedics were faced with more than 20 serious emergencies – including a patient suffering a stroke, another with chest pains and a diabetic emergency.

Paramedics reached the woman at 6.51pm, taking her to Great Western Hospital.

Despite growing numbers of calls, paramedics were keen to stress that they did not begrudge the calls that some might see as more mundane – such as falls.

Paramedic Lucy Pailor, 26, said: “I don’t find those calls frustrating. I want to go and help those people. It’s their moment of need.”