‘I’ve been bitten by a hamster’: Ambulance trust reveals most inappropriate 999 calls made in last month

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Operators dealing with ambulance calls in Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas have in the last month dealt with startlingly inappropriate complaints from dandruff to poorly pets.

East Midlands Ambulance Service answers over 2,000 999 calls a day from people requiring emergency medical assistance for cardiac arrests, strokes, breathing difficulties and serious injuries.

In order to make sure that handlers’ vital time is not wasted through inappropriate calls, the service is reminding people to only call 999 in a genuine emergency, and its doing so by highlighting some of the worst offenders in March.

Inappropriate calls in the last month have included a man who was kicked out of a club after a night out but had no money to get home, and someone who had been waiting in A&E for an hour and a half and called 999 rather than speak to the hospital reception.

Calls also included:

  • A dead cat
  • Dandruff
  • Wants us to go shopping for her
  • Took dressing off blister on foot and now hurts to walk
  • Man called to say bitten by dog – but the incident was two months ago
  • Angry man kicked out of a club and has no money to get home as he spent all his money on night out
  • Bitten by hamster– Minor injury and plaster needed.
  • Sore on nose and waiting for GP to call back
  • Waiting in A&E for 1.5 hours so called 999
  • Man called for ambulance for his cat

Simon Tomlinson, general manager for EMAS’ Emergency Operations Centres, is reminding people other options are also 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, so you could receive the right treatment for you more quickly by contacting an alternative NHS service particularly if your call is not a serious emergency.”

EMAS revealed that of the 66,621 999 calls received in March, 6,450 of them were ‘unknown’ calls. These are often calls made by people who are not near the patient and so do not know what is wrong with them but are calling to report ‘something they think they have seen’.

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