EMERGENCY crews are urging people to consider safety first as winter conditions continue to bite across the Black Country.

West Midlands Ambulance Service reported an increase of 17 per cent in 999 call demand including a number accidents involving people out sledging.

A 15-year-old male was taken to Russells Hal Hospital with a leg injury at around 5pm on Sunday (January 20) after his sledge his a tree in Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service said:” WMAS is reiterating its safety advice to those thinking of taking to the slopes this week.

“Every winter WMAS is called to people who have become injured whilst sledging. We would encourage people to just take a second to think about where they are sledging and to have fun safely.”

Paramedics are also urging people to only dial 999 for life-threatening conditions and emergencies, such as chest pain, stroke, serious blood loss or a state of unconsciousness.

The service says other agencies such as NHS Direct are available to offer advice and assistance on less urgent cases.

South Staffordshire Police increased patrols as travel conditions worsened in rural areas and with more snow is forecast for the rest of the week, officers are advising motorists only to travel if necessary.

Superintendent Dave Forrest, from South Staffs Police, said: “Clearly, the weather conditions are making our job more difficult but we’re committed to maintaining a highly visible presence in our communities. In areas badly affected by the snow we’re using four by four vehicles to respond to incidents.

"“The best advice when severe weather hits is to stay off the road.

“We would also urge people to think about elderly or vulnerable neighbours as the wintry weather looks set to continue. Please keep an eye on them, check if they are OK and lend a hand if you can.”