British ambulance service creates video compilation of its non-emergency calls

The service said it created the video to inform the public about when it is appropriate to call emergency services

By EMS1 Staff

UNITED KINGDOM — A British ambulance service created a video showcasing some of the nonemergency calls its dispatchers received over the last year, in the hopes of reminding the public to only call for true emergencies.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) in England said that 37% of the 999 (U.K. version of 911) calls it received in 2019 were for nonemergencies, and asked viewers to “help us help you” by only calling for situations that are life-threatening.

“We understand that people panic or need help for situations that are concerning to them, but reporting a broken kettle, or out of reach toilet paper, which are both real calls (we’ve received), can stop us from saving the life of a person in a real emergency,” said NWAS Director of Operations Ged Blezard in a news release.

The video features an NWAS dispatcher reenacting answering the calls with lines such as, “Ambulance service, tell me exactly what’s happened. Did I hear you correctly? You stubbed your toe?”

Other calls include someone complaining about noisy ambulance sirens and another saying they have head lice and are too embarrassed to leave the house.

The NWAS also reminded the public that the service cannot send ambulances for injured animals.

The video ends with a recording of a real 999 call of an emergency in which the dispatcher is instructing a distraught caller to perform CPR.

“My plea to people is only to call the ambulance service when someone is seriously ill or injured and you think they could die,” said NWAS Dispatcher Graham Lawrenson. “Otherwise, your call could be blocking the line for a real emergency.”


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