MORE emergency service staff will be duty tonight as the city prepares itself for England's biggest football game in nearly three decades.

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust will gear up for the match by have additional staff and vehicles on call.

Hampshire Constabulary has also warned officers are experiencing an increase in demand across the county.

It advised that as a result, callers may experience longer waiting times when trying to reach it on 101, particularly in the period following the football match.

Superintendent Paul Bartolomeo, added: "Everyone, including police officers and staff, are extremely proud of England’s achievements so far in the World Cup.  We know emotions can run high during these periods and we really want everyone to be able to enjoy themselves safely.

"We will be working during this time to help keep everyone safe.  Please don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk – we don’t want celebrations resulting in people getting hurt or arrested.  Please act responsibly, look out for each other and only call 999 in a genuine emergency."

Additional staff and vehicles will be on duty from 9pm across the South Central region for SCAS, a silver command cell will be in place from earlier in the evening and senior managers will be in SCAS’ two emergency 999 control rooms to help co-ordinate our resources and responses to the expected increase in calls.

Assistant Director of Operations, Paul Jefferies, said: “Due to the heatwave and England’s quarter-final game on Saturday we saw a 32% increase in emergency 999 calls between 12.00 on 7 July and 06.00 on Sunday 8 July. Fortunately, the vast majority of fans celebrated in the right way in our region and we didn’t see any damage to ambulance vehicles or property that colleagues elsewhere in the country had to deal with.

“However, it was still exceptionally busy and therefore these additional plans have been put in place so we are prepared for a similar expected increase.

"It is important that people understand that we will always prioritise our staff and resources to the most seriously ill or injured patients. People with less serious emergencies – our Category 3 or Category 4 patients who we would normally get to within two or three hours respectively – may experience some delays over and above these usual response times as a result.

“I hope people across our region enjoy the game, celebrate or commiserate with the same spirit and style Gareth Southgate has demonstrated so admirably so that we can make ensure everyone tonight – not just football – is coming home safely.”

SCAS is urging members of the public to help those staff working this evening and overnight by:

•    Only calling 999 if you or someone you are with is suffering a life-threatening or serious emergency
•    For everything else, please call 111 as our 111 call handlers and clinicians are also available 24-7, and can also advise you on local health services that are open and more appropriate for less serious illness or injury 
•    Understanding that some patients may experience delays, not calling 999 constantly for ETA updates from our control room staff and letting us know asap if the ambulance is no longer required
•    Making your own way to local minor injuries units, first aid units or walk-in treatment centres, many of which are open till late this evening, and where you could be treated and home before an ambulance would have been sent.