26th Jun, 2017

Paramedics' plea to stop timewasters after call for help setting up smartphone

Sophie Heaviside 16th Jan, 2017 Updated: 16th Jan, 2017

AMBULANCE chiefs are urging people to stop wasting their time with nonsense 999 calls and to cut the abuse.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) revealed to The Observer the frustration of 999 calls received in Warwickshire which have been anything but emergencies, and the amount of verbal abuse operators have to deal with.

Top of their list was a call on Christmas Day from someone who needed help setting up their new smart phone.

Other nuisance calls have involved reports of a man who had a broken ankle but when crews arrived the man got up and ran off, a call from someone complaining of shivering while walking to work in cold weather, another wanting a lift home because her feet were sore, and even a person who wanted a number for someone who could mend his broken toilet seat.

WMAS call handlers are also frequently the target of verbal abuse.

A woman was verbally abusive to the Clinical Support Desk who were asking her to take her son to hospital after he punched a window and cut his hand, while another called 999 because he was fed up waiting for a GP to call him back.

And a patient who was already in A&E rang 999 because hospital staff could not treat him immediately. He then swore at the call handler when they tried to explain why he was having to wait to be seen and why they could not help.

Warwick Hub area manager Martyn Scott, said: “All 999 calls are received in good faith, so to receive inappropriate calls is extremely disappointing. These calls waste valuable time and resources that could have been used to save lives.

“If our staff are tied up dealing with patients who could have accessed help through the likes of self-care, via a pharmacist, their GP or using the 111 service, they are not available to help a patient in genuine need such as someone having a heart attack, stroke or involved in a serious RTC.

“We would everyone to consider carefully whether dialling 999 is the correct course of action before they do so.

“How would they feel if their call meant one of their loved ones didn’t receive the care they desperately needed and some harm had come to them – would they be able to live with the guilt?

“Please think carefully before dialling 999 – someone’s life could depend on it.”