Use ambulance service wisely - 10 most inappropriate 999 calls revealed

Ambulance. Picture: Mark Atherton

Ambulance. Picture: Mark Atherton - Credit: Archant

Phoning for an injured seagull, strange dreams and asking for a lift home have made the list of this year’s most inappropriate emergency calls.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has released a recording of callers who dialled 999 for the wrong reasons.

The service says it is reminder to only dial 999 in an urgent emergency as the service prepares for its busiest period of the year.

Emergency handlers are expected to deal with more than 3,100 incidents a day between Saturday, December 22, and Boxing Day.

Unnecessary calls taken in recent months, included a man sweating when using his computer, non-urgent medical advice, the death of a dog, complaints about ambulance sirens and a woman punching a wall.

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In one scenario, a caller dealt with a woman who wanted to be transferred to the 101 police non-emergency number as it cost 15 pence a minute and she had run out of phone credit.

In response to the list, centre managers warn that unnecessary calls over the busy festive period could delay emergency help for people in real need of an ambulance.

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David Fletcher, head of SWASFT clinical hubs, said: “The 999 service is only to be used for extremely urgent or life-threatening emergencies, and we urge people to use it wisely.

“If you call because someone is unconscious, not breathing, or has serious bleeding, you are making the right call.

“But calling for an ambulance when it is not absolutely necessary puts additional pressure on our limited resources, and may mean we cannot reach those who are most in need.

“During peak periods, like the festive season, every inappropriate call has the potential to put a life at risk and delay a response to a genuine emergency.

“Please think carefully before calling 999 and ask yourself – ‘is it a real emergency?’”

For non-emergency incidents: phone NHS 111, see a GP or a pharmacist, or visit an NHS Walk in Centre.

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