A dropped burger, a locked door and a dead squirrel – the East of England Ambulance Service launches campaign to combat hoax calls

police appeal for witnesses after three-vehicle crash at Hartford

police appeal for witnesses after three-vehicle crash at Hartford - Credit: Archant

A dead squirrel, a dropped burger and a locked door are just some of the reasons people have called 999 and asked for an ambulance so far this year.

Over the last two years, the East of England Ambulance Service has received 1,248 hoax calls, and frontline crews have attended almost half of those, believing them to be genuine emergencies.

The ambulance service has now launched a campaign - The Right Call - in a bid to get people to use the service properly, highlighting the most absurd ‘emergency’ calls so far in 2015.

Two ambulances were dispatched to a hit and run before it was established the victim was a squirrel.

A Hitchin man’s slimming efforts had obviously suffered a setback when he called the ambulance service and said: “I have been dieting and feel lethargic.”

Mistaking the ambulance service for a free taxi, one man dialled 999 and said: “I need to go to hospital and I don’t get paid until tomorrow.”

A woman in need of a locksmith said: “I’ve gone out shopping and locked myself out of my house”, while another said: “My feet hurt after wearing too small shoes.”

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One caller said: “I’ve dropped my burger and it’s bleeding”, while another complained: “I’ve eaten too much takeaway food.”

The ambulance service receives about 2,500 calls a day, and health chiefs are warning that inappropriate or prank calls could divert resources from genuine emergencies such as cardiac arrests, strokes and patients with breathing difficulties.

Gary Morgan, regional head of emergency operations centres, said: “We’re an emergency service and our frontline staff are trained to save lives.

“However, sadly, some of the calls we receive are not even medical-related and we will refer hoax calls to the police.

“We prioritise all life-threatening calls to get the quickest possible response. However, that response can be affected if our call handlers and frontline staff are dealing with inappropriate 999 calls.

“We would strongly urge people who think it is funny to make a prank call to stop and think about the potential consequences.”

For more information on making the right call, visit http://www.eastamb.nhs.uk/the-right-call.htm