Broken eggs, a dead fox and someone who wanted us to make them breakfast are some of the inappropriate 999 calls our emergency call handlers have taken in the last six months.
We answer over 2,500 999 calls every day from people requiring emergency medical assistance for cardiac arrests, strokes, breathing difficulties and serious injuries.
However, some of the 999 calls we receive are not for emergency situations and when one of our call handlers is on the phone to these inappropriate calls, they are not able to help someone in a real emergency.
Recent inappropriate calls have included someone with a broken toenail, someone who wanted a taxi home and a patient waiting to be seen at a GP surgery, but who didn’t want to wait the 30 minutes for their appointment.
10 inappropriate 999 calls received by EMAS
- Person pouring milk over their body – as part of an art installation
- Wants sleeping tablets
- Dead fox
- At GP surgery, doesn’t want to wait 30 mins for appointment
- Someone had stolen their drinking glass
- Wants bandage changing
- Wants someone to make them breakfast
- Wants a taxi
- Big toenail has come off
Simon Tomlinson, General Manager for our Emergency Operations Centres, would like to remind people to only dial 999 in the event of a serious emergency.
He is also urging people to remember that there are other options available, such as calling NHS 111, contact their GP or a pharmacist or visit an NHS Walk in Centre.
He said: “When you call 999 because someone is unconscious, not breathing, having chest pains or has the symptoms of a stroke, you are making the right call.
“Our emergency call handlers are trained to deliver life-saving instructions over the phone and we will get help to you as quickly as possible.
“Every 999 call is assessed so that the right help is provided to the right people as quickly as possible.
“You could receive the right treatment for you more quickly by contacting an alternative NHS service, such as your local pharmacy or NHS111, particularly if your call is not a serious emergency.
“Please help us to make sure we can reach the people who need us the most.”
We received 59,349 999 calls in December 2017 – and a small proportion of these were inappropriate calls.
However, while our 999 call handlers are dealing with these phone calls, they cannot answer calls from people experiencing a real medical emergency.
In December, we received 999 calls for 922 patients in cardiac arrest, 6,543 people with breathing difficulties and 1,526 patients experiencing a stroke.
Make the right call. Be #999wise.