A drowning goldfish, an injured cat, a dead squirrel and a drunk man wanting a taxi sound like elements from a dark comedy – but they are the latest ‘emergency’ calls received by the region’s ambulance service.
New figures released today reveal the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) received 1,144 hoax calls over the last two years, diverting time away from genuine emergencies.
As part of the It’s Your Call campaign, service bosses are highlighting a number of inappropriate calls to make people think twice about calling 999.
They include a man asking for an ‘animal ambulance’ for a critically injured squirrel, a drunk man outside a nightclub who wanted a taxi, a woman calling about a cat with a broken leg, a child who dialled 999 and told the call handler their goldfish was ‘drowning’ and a call to an unconscious man who turned out to be snoring in the back of a taxi.
Gary Morgan, Head of Emergency Operations Centres (EOC), said: “Just because 999 is an easy to remember number does not mean it is acceptable for people to misuse it or treat it as a telephone directory.
“Hoax and inappropriate 999 calls have the potential to divert attention away from real emergencies and we will refer people who misuse the service to our police colleagues to take action.
“We’d urge the public to remember that the ambulance service is for emergencies such as cardiac arrests, patients with chest pain and breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, strokes, trauma, choking and severe allergic reactions.”
The Trust launched It’s Your Call campaign last year to inform people and educate others on how 999 calls are handled and prioritised so that, in the event of a medical problem, they feel better equipped to know what to do.
For more information, visit www.eastamb.nhs.uk/your-service/campaigns/its-your-call.htm