‘999? I’ve stubbed my toe on the Christmas tree’

19th November 2019

A MAN dialled 999 after a woman stubbed her toe on a Christmas tree.

Another man called the Welsh Ambulance Service to wish his friends a merry Christmas, while one woman asked for help for a stinging sensation after shaving her bikini line.

In more inappropriate 999 calls in the last year, one man asked for ambulance assistance to get into a locked church, while another called with toothache.

The Welsh Ambulance Service has published a list of inappropriate calls from the past year to signal the launch of its Be Wise Save Lives campaign for people to use 999 sensibly as it heads into the busy winter period.

Of the 470,601 calls received in the last year, 116,674 – almost a quarter – were categorised as not serious or immediately life-threatening.

Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “Inappropriate calls to our emergency ambulance service are a problem year-round, but especially as we head into winter when people are sicker and we have adverse weather to contend with.

“Our ambulance service exists to help those whose life is in imminent danger and for those who are seriously ill or injured.

“Time spent by call handlers tied up with a stubbed toe could be time spent giving CPR instructions for someone in cardiac arrest, or arranging help for the victim of a road traffic collision.

“Blocking our precious resources with these types of calls could literally be a matter of life or death, and our request to the community is simple; help us help you when you need it most and think carefully before you dial 999.”

Among the other inappropriate callers to the ambulance service in the last 12 months were a man with a bad hangover and a woman who wanted an STD test after a mishap during sex.

On a separate occasion, a group of children rang 999 to sing Christmas songs to the call handler before hanging up.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Operations, added: “Many of these calls are plain hoax calls, but a lot are from people who genuinely have no idea where else they can turn.

“999 is one of many, many ways to seek medical assistance so if you’re not seriously ill or injured, take an online Symptom Checker at www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 (or 111 if available in your area) for advice and information about where to turn.

“You can also visit your GP, Pharmacist and Optician, as well as your local Minor Injuries Unit, where there is no need for an appointment.

“We began creating our plans as early as March to ensure we are prepared as can be for the busy winter period, but we need the public to use us appropriately so we can deliver the best service possible during this busy time.

“The public should also prepare themselves ahead of the Christmas period; for example, if you rely on medicines, check to make sure these are stocked as the public holidays can limit options for some people.”

Follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #BeWiseSaveLives

Editor’s Notes

Calls to the Welsh Ambulance Service are categorised in terms of priority; RED are serious and immediately life-threatening calls, AMBER are serious but there is no imminent threat to life and GREEN are non-urgent and non-essential calls.

The 116,674 calls non-urgent calls referenced here were received during the period 01 October 2018 – 30 September 2019, and were categorised as ‘GREEN’ calls.

For more information, please email Head of Communications Lois.Hough@wales.nhs.uk or call Lois on 01745 778671.

  • ‘999? I’ve stubbed my toe on the Christmas tree’

    A MAN dialled 999 after a woman stubbed her toe on a Christmas tree. Another man called the Welsh Ambulance Service to wish his friends a merry Christmas, while one woman asked for help for a stinging sensation after shaving her bikini line. In more inappropriate 999 calls in the last year, one man asked for ambulance assistance to get into a locked church, while another called with toothache.

  • Welsh Ambulance Service appoints Director of Digital Services

    Andy Haywood, a former Royal Navy officer, has been appointed to shape and oversee an ambitious digital services strategy which will support the delivery of patient care and improve the experience of staff.

  • Help shape Welsh Ambulance Service’s vision for equality

    The Trust is inviting feedback on its Treating People Fairly strategy, which sets out its approach to delivering the Equality Act and other key legislation like the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 the Well-being of Future Generations and Social Services Acts.

  • Emergency Services Carol Service

    The Emergency Services in north Wales are joining together for their annual Carol Service at St Asaph Cathedral next week.