Hitchin slimmer’s 999 call is no joke for hard-pressed ambulance service crews

People have been urged to get 'winter wise' after a busy start to the year for ambulance teams

People have been urged to get 'winter wise' after a busy start to the year for ambulance teams - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin man’s decision to call 999 about his dieting may sound like a joke, but an ambulance service chief has warned the public it is no laughing matter.

The East of England Ambulance Service has received 1,248 hoax or misguided calls over the past two years, almost half of which have been attended by frontline crews who believed there was a genuine emergency.

In response a campaign has now been launched – The Right Call – in a bid to get people to use the service properly while highlighting the most absurd ‘emergency’ calls so far in 2015.

These include a caller from Hitchin who dialled 999 and said: “I have been dieting and feel lethargic”, and another who reported a hit and run – on a dead squirrel.

Gary Morgan, who heads up the region’s emergency operations centres, said: “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.”

Visit www.eastamb.nhs.uk/the-right-call.html to find out more.

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