EMERGENCY services workers dealt with four calls every minute as 999 demand soared at the start of 2014 – including drunken fights, falls and even a man who had got stuck in a muddy ditch.

The new year led to the staggering number of requests for help from West Midlands Ambulance Service, with 159 people in Worcestershire alone needing assistance. Across the region more than 200 ambulances and 100 paramedics responded to almost 1,900 999 calls between 8pm on New Year’s Eve and 6am on New Year’s Day.

It was a similar story at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, which covers the Gloucestershire Cotswolds.

The trust said it had a “demanding” night on New Year’s Eve, taking more than 2,000 calls.

The total figure of 2,037 calls between 6pm on New Year’s Eve and 6am on New Year’s Day was a slight drop on the 2,246 taken in the same period last year.

Neil Le Chevalier, deputy director of delivery, said this could have been due to the wet weather on New Year’s Eve.

But he also said: “Despite a very slight fall, it was a demanding night, with the greatest number of calls received between 2am and 3am. Even on such a busy night, when the ambulance service helps a wide range of patients, it is extremely important that we continued to provide a safe and effective service for everyone, whether they were suffering with a medical problem, a serious injury or an alcoholrelated problem.”

For West Midlands Ambulance Service the peak was slightly earlier, between 1am and 2am, when four calls came in every 60 seconds.

Incidents included a drunk man who got stuck in a muddy ditch in Priory Farm Lane, Inkberrow, just before 4.30am, needing fire crews to pull him out and attention from paramedics.

Anthony Marsh, chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “New year’s eve is traditionally the busiest night of the year – this one has been no exception and I am immensely proud of the way the service has dealt with the surge in 999 calls.”

It was also a busy night for police, with special patrols set up in Evesham and market towns across south Worcestershire.

Mark Travis, superintendent for South Worcestershire, said more than 20 arrests were made during the early hours, most of them in Worcester.

Supt Travis said: “Overall it passed off very well, we had a large number of officers on extended shifts so we could double the usual number on patrol.

“The vast majority of people were superb, very good humoured and only a small minority had to be dealt with, largely because they were intoxicated.”