The Hunter's ambulance paramedics say a recent spate of bushfires, coupled with the extreme heat, has lead to a very busy start to summer.
Paramedics have been called to hundreds of emergencies over the holiday period, including car accidents and alcohol-related incidents.
Hunter Inspector Graeme Silver says the majority of calls for help have been water-related, with a surprising increase in scuba diving accidents.
He says local paramedics have been kept busy.
"We've got a spike but that's more in relation to the hot weather, also the fires," he said.
"Last week, as we're all aware, we had major fires in the area and that created some work load for us.
"Plus the extreme weather - very busy!"
© ABC 2013
10:46 EST A retired army officer has been appointed to lead the recovery effort after storms and floods caused damage and destruction in parts of New South Wales.