AS the festive season gets underway, the agencies that look after the community are preparing for one of the busiest times of year.

Every Christmas, council workers and emergency services, including police, paramedics and firefighters, face increased demand as revellers indulge in the festive spirit.

But the authorities go to great lengths to ensure they are prepared for whatever the season throws at them.

Essex Police have launched their annual anti drink and drug driving campaign entitled “How it feels”.

It highlights the far-reaching consequences driving while under the influence of drink or drugs has, showing how it feels for the emergency services who deal with incidents first-hand.

Adam Pipe, casualty reduction manager at Essex Police, said: “We are still seeing a high number of people drink driving, which is unacceptable.

“However, what is even more concerning is the number of people we are seeing drug driving.

“The consequences of drink or drug driving are so serious and can have such a devastating impact I cannot understand why anyone would want to take the chance.

“Following our summer crack-down, we issued custody pictures of all those who were convicted of a driving offence having been arrested during the campaign.

“We’ve had a really positive response from the public and so we are going to do the same again for our Christmas campaign.”

Police teams will be backed up by the council’s CCTV operators who are often vital in helping direct police resources.

A Southend Council spokesman said: “As the festive season approaches, we are ensuring that we are resourced to provide sufficient cover over what can be a particularly demanding time on our services.

“Overindulgence in alcohol can sometimes lead to antisocial behaviour, so we will be supporting the police in addressing this through the Community Safety Partnership and helping to identify and gather evidence of antisocial behaviour and crime through our CCTV team.”

The ambulance service is also urging the community to stay “winter wise” this Christmas.

Demand has gone up almost 40 per cent since the winter of 2010/11 when the service received almost 270,000 calls from the beginning of November to the end of February.

Kevin Brown, director of service delivery for the ambulance service, said: “Winter is a really busy time for the ambulance service and we are prepared.

“We will be there for patients who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses and injuries this winter.

“We always prioritise our response to those with the highest priority need so ask that we are only called from emergencies where other health advice and support is not appropriate.

“However, we would urge everyone to take measures to protect themselves and their family to avoid a 999 call this year.

“Getting vaccinated against flu and using the most appropriate service for your needs such as NHS 111, GP or pharmacist will really help the emergency ambulance service.” People can get advice about being Winter Wise by using #WinterWise hashtags on social media.