Hoax and inappropriate ambulance calls still a problem despite dropBy Becky Barnes
January 04, 2013
A spotty bottom, requests for cigarettes and ‘too tired to walk home’ are just some of the reasons people have called an ambulance in the last month.
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) deals with hundreds of hoax or inappropriate calls every year, but did see a reduction in the first half of last year following its viral campaign ‘Misuse Costs Lives’, in January.
As the service prepares to relaunch the campaign this month, it revealed the number of inappropriate calls dropped from 760 from July to December 2011 to 661 between January and June last year.
In Bracknell Forest there were eight in the second part of 2011 and 10 in the first part of 2012. But inappropriate calls are still flooding in and calls logged in the past month include someone calling 999 to ask for cigarettes to be delivered.
An SCAS spokesman added: “A couple of weeks ago we sent an ambulance to a school as they were worried a child was going blue – he had paint on him.”
Other recent 999 calls include a man who had a big pimple on his bottom who was passed on to NHS Direct and another who called to ask the crew to switch his hall light off.
An ambulance crew called to a woman in her 30s with chest pains found she just wanted a lift home and a man became abusive when a crew refused to take him from the job centre to hospital to get a sick note.
Paul Jefferies, an area manager for South Central Ambulance Service and a paramedic with more than 18 years’ service, said: “This misuse takes vital resources away from people in life-threatening situations.
“If you or someone from your family is in cardiac arrest you want to know emergency care is going to be with you as quickly as possible. However, we have been called miles away to pass someone paracetamol from a table.”
Each ambulance call out costs on average £257 while hoax or inappropriate calls make resources unavailable to genuine life-threatening medical emergencies.
People with non-life threatening injuries or illness can call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47, call the out-of-hours GP service, consult a pharmacist, or visit A&E for minor injuries. View a ‘Misuse Costs Lives’ video at www.youtube.com/watch? v=0de4RQn91Cs.