Ambulance records indicate severe health conditions that have escalated resulting in acute symptoms, often requiring urgent medical attention. During the COVID-19 pandemic our research team, led by Dr Harriet Moore from School of Geography with CaHRU and the Lincoln Institute for Rural Health, used ambulance attendance records from the East Midlands Ambulance NHS Trust (EMAS) to identify regions with unusually high rates of patients who were suspected to be severely ill from COVID-19, and to consider how the relationship between physical landscapes and societies is changing in response to emerging infectious diseases.
We identified 13 ‘unusual’ clusters and suggest that the drivers of vulnerability vary between urban and rural, as well as coastal and inland spaces. Further, spaces that are usually considered to be ‘healthy’, like parks and commons, may have become spaces of high risk in the context of contagion. Alongside this research, we investigated the mental health impacts of the first national ‘lockdown’ on people living in the East Midlands of the UK.
Our analysis found that people of younger age, male gender, and South Asian and Black ethnicity are particularly vulnerable to experiencing acute mental health conditions during ‘lockdown’. Importantly, we observe that ambulance data represents groups in society who are typically underrepresented by common mental health research methods, like self-reporting. Males and people of minority ethnicity are less likely to engage with social surveys. Emergency medical data, like ambulance data, can be used to identify vulnerable groups during a pandemic, as well as under more ordinary circumstances.