Ambulance Service Urge People To Use Service Appropriately

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has received more than 1,200 hoax calls over the last two years, with front-line crews dispatched to almost half believing them to be genuine emergencies.

The NHS Trust has released the figures to raise awareness that such "inappropriate or prank calls" can divert ambulance resources from genuine emergencies such as cardiac arrests, strokes and patients with breathing difficulties.

EEAST published a list of eight inappropriate calls:

• 'Is it ok for a little squirrel to die?' - Caller tries to argue the case that an ambulance should have been sent to a squirrel in the Epping Forest area of Essex who had been the victim of a 'hit and run'. Two ambulance crews had been dispatched until it was established that the 'someone' was a squirrel.

• "I've gone out shopping and locked myself out of my house." - Shoeburyness woman needing emergency locksmiths.

• "My dog is vomiting blood" - woman in Wisbech calls 999 for a sick pet. She is advised to phone a veterinarian.

• "I've eaten too much take-away food" – Chelmsford woman feeling a bit sick after a day of indulgence.

• "My feet hurt after wearing too small shoes," – Peterborough man needs an emergency cobbler.

• "I've dropped my burger and it is bleeding," – Basildon caller has take-away accident.

• "I have been dieting and feel lethargic" – Hitchin man's slimming efforts suffer a setback.

• "I need to go to hospital and I don't get paid until tomorrow" – Benfleet man calls 999 for a free taxi service.

Gary Morgan, Regional Head of Emergency Operations Centres, said: "We're an emergency service and our front-line staff are trained to save lives.

"However, sadly, some of the calls we receive are not even medical related and we will refer hoax calls to the police.

"We prioritise all life-threatening calls to get the quickest possible response. However, that response can be affected if our call handlers and front-line staff are dealing with inappropriate 999 calls.

"We would strongly urge people who think it is funny to make a prank call to stop and think about the potential consequences."


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