AMBULANCE services in Cheshire and Merseyside are in crisis with some 999 calls going unanswered for 11 minutes, it was revealed last night.
An activity log of emergency calls from last weekend has exposed how staff are hopelessly overwhelmed by the number of calls pouring in.
The log reveals that when calls are answered there are often not enough ambulances available to immediately take the patients to hospital.
And even when patients get to hospital there are often no beds available for them and they have to wait in the back of the ambulance to be admitted.
While the issue of overcrowded hospitals is not the responsibility of the ambulance service, it raises concerns as winter approaches.
Last month it was revealed by the Daily Post that calls to the ambulance service have risen so dramatically over the last 10 years that staff have been taking up to five minutes to answer 999 calls.
Calls have escalated to an average of 10 per emergency incident - due almost entirely to the prevalence of mobile phones.
The service says it desperately needs £4m from the government to take on extra staff and buy more ambulances.
The evidence from the activity log proves just how dire the situation now is. From Friday to Sunday the log reveals how:
* British Telecom, which answers 999 calls and directs them to the relevant emergency service control room, called 10 times to express their concerns over delays in answering calls.
* In one case, BT reported that they were unable to pass on a critical call for 11 minutes.
* A shortage of vehicles was caused because of the lack of staff.
* At one point there were 30 999 calls waiting to be allocated to ambulances.
* Merseyside Police called to voice their concern about the delays after BT attempted to put emergency calls for ambulances through to them.
* A number of hospitals ran out of trolleys, including Whiston and Fazakerley, leaving ambulances to wait around with their patients.
The log also shows that Warrington Hospital closed its A&E department to ambulance admissions for 24 hours on Saturday.
The knock-on effect of this was that Whiston, the Countess of Chester Hospital and Manchester's Hope Hospital, who had been receiving patients, later requested that ambulances take Warrington's patients elsewhere.
Stephanie Thomas, head of health for Unison, said: "We are calling for an independent inquiry into the running of MRAS into why the service is failing in such a dramatic way.
"This was one of the best performing ambulance trusts in the country and now it's one of the worst. The question is, what's going wrong?
"We're fearful someone is going to die. This was one of the worst weekends ever, the worst weekend this year, because of the lack of resources across the NHS patch."
Mersey Regional Ambulance Trust admitted it needs more staff in the control room, more ambulances on the roads and better deployment of vehicles.
But in order to do this, bosses say they need an extra £4.9m on top of their yearly budget from local health providers.
In the meantime, chief executive Janet Davies said the Trust was paying for rapid response vehicles manned by paramedics without having the funding for those vehicles to be on the road.
Ms Davies says they want to implement a major modernisation plans, but they will need the funds to do it.
"There's no quick fix to this," said Ms Davies. "We can't just magic people to answer the phones. We have huge plans and need resources."