Service asks Public to Use 999 Sensibly

 Monday 23 December 2013

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

Ambulance staff are dealing with 20%-30% increases in calls at peak periods during the festive season, ensuring that those with the most need get the fastest response.

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

  • someone who had lost their house keys and was locked out
  • a caller who wanted their beeping smoke alarm to be silenced
  • a call for a bird that had escaped in the front room
  • someone whose boiler had broken down
  • a cut finger

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:
“Our staff work tirelessly to respond to calls for help and deliver the most appropriate care, but 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 healthcare need other than a serious or life threatening emergency that can’t wait until the local GP surgery opens, the public should contact NHS 24 on 08454 242424, or for general health information go to or

At this time of year ambulance staff normally deal with a 20% surge in emergency demand 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 6.5 minutes.