Service Wants Inappropriate 999 Calls to Stop

 Thursday 20 December 2012

The Scottish Ambulance Service is asking the public to use the 999 service properly and put a stop to the number of inappropriate calls that waste valuable time and resources during the busy festive period._

Last Sunday emergency demand in some parts of the country exceeded the anticipated 20% surge, with a 32% increase in Edinburgh and a 22% increase across Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Ambulance staff are now bracing themselves for a busy weekend before Christmas.

Some of the most extreme cases of recent inappropriate 999 calls to ambulance control centres in Scotland include:

  • female who was worried her tooth might fall out
  • person who called at 5am to say the car that overturned a few years previously had not been recovered
  • someone who wanted an ambulance crew to come and open a jar for them
  • a caller phoned to ask for an ambulance crew to put their bin out.

In one case a man called to say that he was bleeding badly from a neck wound only for the crew to find that he had cut a spot while shaving and needed nothing more than a small plaster.

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:
“This weekend will be the busiest of the year so far and our staff will be working tirelessly to respond to patients.  The 999 service is for serious emergencies and we are asking the public to use it wisely so that we can continue to send ambulances quickly to those that need us most.”

“At peak periods, like the festive season, every inappropriate call has the potential to delay a response to a serious emergency.”

For any illness other than a serious or life threatening emergency the public should contact their local GP or NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24.

At this time of year ambulance staff normally deal with a 20% surge in emergency demand and expect to respond to over 61,000 incidents. Across the country crews are responding to the most serious emergencies faster than ever and saving more lives. The average response time to a life threatening call is 6.7 minutes.