Festive season brings surge in workload for police, ambulance service

Source: ERR

The holiday season is in full swing from today, Friday, which is a half-day ahead of the main celebrations on Christmas Eve and, a week later, New Year's Eve.

While this year, some people may feel disgruntled over being "cheated" out of days off during the week, the festive season nonetheless spells an uptick in work for the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), the ambulance service (Kiirabi), the hospitals and other key agencies.

Alcohol plays a major role in traffic hazards and in domestic violence cases, sadly.

PPA South Prefecture head Vallo Koppel told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "The holidays can for some people turn out not to be a time of joy, but one of sadness and fear, when perpetrators of violence pose a danger to people and also to children."

"The second concern is, of course, the traffic, where there is this danger that people really believe that 'I drank so little, I can drive right away,' or don't think about their state the morning after, and get behind the wheel while they're still actually drunk."

Family therapist Kristina Timmuski told AK that intimate partner violence has been rising by around one-third, based on the experiences of the Tartu women's shelter, with alcohol is largely to blame. 

Most incidents come during and right after the holidays, however.

"This is obviously a result of the fact that during the holidays, the family gets together and there are no options to seek help. When an abuser returns to their new responsibilities (ie. work etc. - ed.), then the victim can also find an opportunity to seek help," Timmusk said.

Issues can even arise which don't involve others, including loneliness.

Veronika Reinhard, board chair of the Tartu ambulance service, said that incidents of self-harm also tend to rise during Christmas and the New Year, often involving those who are alone.

If you do find yourself alone during the festive season, or in any case, particular care should be taken to avoid overconsumption, of food as well as of alcohol, and ensure candles, for instance, are extinguished before going to bed.

Reinhard also urged people to contact relatives and keep tabs on them, or where necessary, to do so for a neighbor, acquaintance or friend who may be alone.

While a Cromwellian abolition of Christmas does not seem on the cards, nevertheless excess drinking in turn leading to violence and drunk driving remains the main specter as ever, while presumably the changed security situation, soaring inflation and high energy prices, along with tough weather conditions, do nothing to alleviate things either.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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