Woman called 999 ‘because she could not get her wellies off’

National Ambulance Service asks public not to make non-life threatening emergency calls

The NAS has issued an appeal to the public, asking people not to make unnecessary calls to emergency services. Photograph: Thinkstock

The NAS has issued an appeal to the public, asking people not to make unnecessary calls to emergency services. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has asked the public not to make non-life threatening calls to any emergency services.

The appeal comes after paramedics revealed some of the non-emergency calls they have responded to.

One was for a woman reported as having bleeding that would not stop in the early hours of the morning. When the ambulance crew arrived, they discovered “she was scratched after her cat and dog were fighting and she broke it up.”

Another call was from a man who been prescribed antibiotics by his GP for a cold - hours later, he rang for an ambulance because the tablets were not working.

Other examples include:

-A woman in her 70s said to be trapped in her kitchen and on arrival, the crew found she could not get her wellies off.

- A man with sunburn. He was fully conscious and breathing but wanted an ambulance.

- A man whose new Christmas shoes were too tight and hurting his feet.

- A man whose hand had got stuck in a mouse trap.

- A caller who could not sleep and thought their house was haunted.

- A broken fingernail.

In 2014, an ambulance was dispatched after a caller said there was a 14-year-old in labour. On arrival the crew found the family dog was in labour and not a teenage girl.

Another paramedic said a crew was once dispatched to find the cardiac arrest was in a dog and not a person.

Paul Bell, SIPTU’s health organiser said: “I have had crews in peak time responding to what turns out to be a cut from shaving. I believe people who make such calls should be prosecuted.

“Some people think they will be treated first if they go to hospital in am ambulance. That is not true because the triage system works (in emergency departments) whatever way you arrive at them.”

The NAS said the calls “can put unnecessary additional demand on emergency services resources.

“More importantly, non life threatening calls can be time consuming and may delay a genuine caller receiving timely medical assistance.”

Tony Gregg of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association, said the association would like a revival of a previous information campaign that advised the public about the incidents that require an ambulance.

In a statement, the NAS said it answers every 112/999 call it receives.

On the issue of patients who may insist on going to hospital, even if the paramedics do not believe this to be necessary, the NAS said paramedics will “explain the common sense approach to treatment” and may advise that a patient visit a minor injury unit or GP.