Young men have overtaken young women in ambulance callouts due to alcohol intoxication, the latest State-wide figures released by St John Ambulance WA and the Curtin University based-McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth show.
The figures show there were 251 reported cases of young Western Australian men aged 18 and younger requiring urgent medical assistance and 239 involving young women last year, compared to 212 cases involving young men and 249 for young women reported in 2016.
The St John Ambulance figures document the total number of ambulance call-outs for alcohol intoxication for males and females across the state and whether further medical treatment including hospitalisation was required.
The total number of ambulance requests related to alcohol last year was higher than the previous two years, with 5324 calls for urgent medical assistance, an average of 15 ambulances per day, resulting in 3554 cases requiring hospitalisation, which is up 315 cases from 2016.
There was also an increase in the number of young children under the age of 12 requiring urgent medical assistance for alcohol consumption, with eight reported cases in 2017 compared to two cases in 2016.
St John Ambulance WA Metro Ambulance General Manger Phil Martin said the impact of alcohol was huge.
“To see so many calls for assistance as a result of alcohol is incredibly disappointing,” Mr Martin said.
“Alcohol can cause a lot of harm, especially in young people. It can cause lasting brain changes, affecting mood, ability to learn and decision making.
“We’d like to see parents educate their children more about the dangers of using alcohol and that includes setting a good example for young people.”
McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth Executive Officer Julia Stafford said the new figures demonstrated that alcohol use was still causing excessive harm to the WA community, and remained an ongoing burden on ambulance and hospital resources.
“With more than nine ambulances being called to treat intoxicated Western Australians aged 18 years and younger every week in 2017, including children under 12, we’ve clearly still got a big problem to address with alcohol and young people,” Ms Stafford said.
“Alarmingly, the 493 ambulances called to give urgent medical assistance due to alcohol intoxication in young people in 2017 represented an increase on the 2015 and 2016 call out figures.
“This is a preventable problem. Evidence-based policy options are available to the WA Government to help reduce alcohol-related harm across the State, with minimum pricing of alcohol holding great potential to reduce the harm experienced by families and communities, and reduce the burden on health services.”