Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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No, a hit and run squirrel is not a good reason to ring 999

WHAT do a dead squirrel, a sick dog, a dropped burger, and a locked door have in common?

They are all examples of “emergency” calls the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s (EEAST) has received this year, which it is highlighting to urge the public to use 999 wisely to support its Right Call campaign.

Examples of the most inappropriate calls the Trust’s emergency operations centres have received so far in 2015 include:

‘Is it ok for a little squirrel to die?’ – Caller tries to argue the case that an ambulance should have been sent to a squirrel in the Epping Forest area of Essex who had been the victim of a ‘hit and run’. Two ambulance crews had been dispatched until it was established that the ‘someone’ was a squirrel. (with audio at the end of this release)

‘I’ve gone out shopping and locked myself out of my house.” – Shoeburyness woman needing emergency locksmiths.

‘My dog is vomiting blood’ – woman in Wisbech calls 999 for a sick pet. She is advised to phone a veterinarian.

‘I’ve eaten too much take-away food” – Chelmsford woman feeling a bit sick after a day of indulgence.

“My feet hurt after wearing too small shoes,” – Peterborough man needs an emergency cobbler.

‘I’ve dropped my burger and it is bleeding,’ – Basildon caller has take-away accident.

‘I have been dieting and feel lethargic’ – Hitchin man’s slimming efforts suffer a setback.

‘I need to go to hospital and I don’t get paid until tomorrow’ – Benfleet man calls 999 for a free taxi service.

The Trust receives on average around 2,500 calls a day. However, not all of them are life-threatening or require emergency care.

Bosses from EEAST are also advising the public that such inappropriate or prank calls could divert ambulance resources from genuine emergencies such as cardiac arrests, strokes and patients with breathing difficulties.

Over the last two years, the Trust has received 1,248 hoax calls and front-line crews have attended almost half of those, believing them to be genuine emergencies, according to new figures.

Gary Morgan, Regional Head of Emergency Operations Centres, said: “We’re an emergency service and our front-line 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 front-line 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.”

The Trust today launches a new video behind the scenes of one of our emergency operation centres to show people how 999 calls are answered and prioritised and what patients can do to help us. To view the video, visit

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

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