The East of England Ambulance Service has released a list of ‘emergency’ calls it has received in the past year.
These are being used as part of the Right Call campaign which urges people to use 999 wisely.
Examples of the most inappropriate calls the trust’s emergency operations centres have received so far in 2015 include:
> ‘Is it ok for a little squirrel to die?’ - a caller tries to argue the case that an ambulance should have been sent to a squirrel 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.” - a woman who needed an emergency locksmith.
> ‘My dog is vomiting blood’ - a woman called 999 for a sick pet and was advised to phone a veterinarian.
Some of the calls we receive are not even medical related and we will refer hoax calls to the policeGary Morgan, regional head of emergency operations centres
> ‘I’ve eaten too much take-away food’ – a woman feeling a bit sick after a day of indulgence.
> ‘My feet hurt after wearing too small shoes’ – a man needs an emergency cobbler.
> ’I’ve dropped my burger and it is bleeding’ – a caller has a take-away accident.
> ’I have been dieting and feel lethargic’ – a man’s slimming efforts suffer a setback.
> ‘I need to go to hospital and I don’t get paid until tomorrow’ – a man calls 999 for a free taxi service.
The trust receives on average around 2,500 calls a day however not all of them are life-threatening or require emergency care.
Bosses from the ambulance trust are also advising people that such inappropriate or prank calls could divert ambulance resources from genuine emergencies such as cardiac arrests, strokes and patients with breathing difficulties.
Over the last two years, the trust has received 1,248 hoax calls and front-line crews have attended almost half of those, believing them to be genuine emergencies, according to new figures.
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.”
The trust has also launched a new video behind the scenes of one of their emergency operation centres to show people how 999 calls are answered and prioritised and what patients can do to help.