Off duty ambulance crews were drafted in as paramedics experienced one of their busiest days of recent years during this week’s snowfall.

East of England Ambulance (EEAST) said Epping Forest was one of the most affected areas during the bad conditions which saw the service stretched to the limit on Monday (December 10).

Almost 4,400 calls were received by the ambulance service throughout the day, making it one of its busiest 24-hour periods in recent years

The severe weather led to EEAST declaring “major incident status”, with many staff being called in on their days off to keep up with demand.

EEAST chief executive, Robert Morton said: “The conditions we experienced were extreme and we would like to thank the public for being patient with our responses.

“We had to prioritise life-threatening calls and the most seriously ill patients.

“Our call handlers had to let those calling about less serious incidents know they could wait a very long time for an ambulance and to consider an alternative if it was not a life-threatening emergency.”

The ambulance service stood down major incident status on Tuesday morning, but has still warned the public to take care in icy conditions.

It also advised those living in areas affected by snow to check on vulnerable neighbours and choose wisely about which NHS service they require.

Mr Morton added: “added: “Every single member of EEAST has worked incredibly hard and is continuing to do so.

“Some members of staff came in on their days off and others worked many hours on from the end of their shift and responding so compassionately to those who need us most in the community to make sure our patients got the best possible care they could.”