• Kyodo News

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The Tokyo Fire Department sent out ambulances 700,808 times, or once every 45 seconds, in 2010, the first time the number topped 700,000 since starting the service in 1936.

Department officials said Wednesday the hot summer, which saw numerous calls for ambulances to transport heatstroke victims, and the rise in the number of elderly in Tokyo were the reasons for the increase.

The previous record was 699,971 in 2005.

A decision by the government of Higashikurume, part of the greater Tokyo area, to entrust the Tokyo Fire Department with sending out ambulances there, starting in April, also contributed to the rise.

The department’s ambulances carried some 4,600 heatstroke victims to hospitals between June and September, more than six times the number during summer 2009.

Throughout the year they also carried 277,000 people aged 65 or older, an increase of 27,000.

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