The Welsh Ambulance Service has shared with Sky News some of the most inappropriate calls made to 999 in the last twelve months.
Included in the report was an individual who had experienced the loss of their voice, someone dealing with a stuck ring on their finger, and another person who had eaten too much kebab. Out of the 414,149 calls made to the ambulance service in the previous year, 68,416 were classified as non-life-threatening emergencies, averaging 188 calls each day.
Speaking on the findings, Andy Swinburn, executive director of Paramedicine, said: “Inappropriate calls put additional strain on an already over-stretched service. Our plea to the public is to apply your common sense; most people know the difference between a real emergency and something that is uncomfortable, painful or irritating but not life-threatening.”
Lee Brooks, executive director of Operations, added: “If it’s not a serious or life-threatening emergency, it’s really important that you consider the alternatives to 999. Ensure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet for things which can be treated at home, like cut fingers, headaches and sore throats. And if you have prescription medication, please keep on top of it and collect it on time.
“If you or your loved one is ill or injured, ask yourself whether you really need the attention of the emergency services or if you can use an alternative or make your own way to hospital. We’re here to help people in their hour of need, but we also need the public to take some ownership and accountability for their health and wellbeing at a time when NHS services are stretched beyond measure.”
The following are real 999 calls made to the Welsh Ambulance Service in the past year:Call 1Operator: Ambulance, what’s the address of the emergency?Caller: Hi, yeah, erm… I know it doesn’t 100% qualify as this but my wife must have accidentally rubbed chilli in her eyes and her eyes are burning. She’s tried washing them and nothing’s happening.Call 2Operator: Tell me exactly what’s happened.Caller: Yesterday evening, we had some kebab, and I might have had a little bit more than I’m used to. Then, this morning, I’ve had a very painful stomach.
Call 3Caller: I have a bottom part denture, and I went to clean my teeth and I said, ‘Where’s my false teeth?’ This sounds crazy… but I don’t know what else to do. Could I have swallowed my false teeth?Operator: So, you don’t know where your false teeth are?