Don’t call 999 for a drowning fish

Goldfish
Goldfish

A drowning goldfish, an injured cat, a dead squirrel and a drunk man wanting a taxi - what do all these things have in common?

The answer is that they have all been reasons why people have made emergency calls to the ambulance service this summer.

New figures reveal that the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) received 1,144 hoax calls over the last two years - including 156 in Hertfordshire - which diverted time away from genuine emergencies.

As part of the It’s Your Call campaign, service bosses are highlighting some of the more ridiculous calls like these to make people think twice about calling 999.

These include a man 
asking for an “animal 
ambulance” for a critically 
injured squirrel, a drunk man outside an Essex nightclub 
who wanted a taxi, a child who called 999 and told a call 
handler in Chelmsford that their goldfish was “drowning”, and a call to an unconscious man in Bedford who turned out to be snoring in the back of a taxi.

Gary Morgan, Head of Emergency Operations 
Centres (EOC), said: “Just 
because 999 is an easy to 
remember number does not mean it is acceptable for 
people to misuse it or treat it as a telephone directory.

“Hoax and inappropriate 999 calls have the potential to divert attention away from real emergencies and we will refer people who misuse the service to the police.

“We’d urge the public 
to remember that the 
ambulance service is for emergencies such as 
cardiac arrests, patients with chest pain and breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, strokes, trauma, choking and severe allergic reactions.”

For more information on the It’s Your Call campaign, visit www.eastamb.nhs.uk/your-service/campaigns/
its-your-call.htm