From an ill budgie to a broken fridge: Hoax calls to ambulance service cost £62,000 in a year
PRANK calls to the ambulance service in North East Lincolnshire has cost more than £62,000 in the last year alone.
More than 300 hoax or inappropriate phone calls have been made from our area since April 1, 2011 – potentially putting people's lives at risk.
It has been revealed that people rang 999 because:
It was raining and they didn't have a coat.
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Their pet budgerigar had breathing difficulties.
They wanted advice on how to defrost a turkey.
The pilot light had gone out on their boiler.
Steve Pratten, operations manager at East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: "These sort of calls are a real problem and can be the difference between life and death if highly trained paramedic staff are being sent to calls that are minor, hoax or inappropriate.
"This can be a real challenge to the staff in the emergency operations centre, too, who dispatch ambulances and fast response cars, as well as to the paramedics themselves."
The average cost of a call-out for East Midlands Ambulance Service is £208.
It serves 4.8-million people within Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire (including North and North East Lincolnshire), Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.
In the whole region, 843 hoax calls were recorded since April 1, 2011, and there were a further 3,321 call-outs where no patients were found at the scene. Altogether, this has cost a total of £866,112.
Calls taken by the control room are classified into red and green; red is life-threatening and green calls are urgent but non life-threatening.
In the last year, paramedics were sent to hundreds of incidents where they believed patients were in serious trouble.
In once case, a crew went to the home of a man who claimed to have been bitten by a snake – only to find he was high on drugs and the snake was on a wildlife programme on TV.
The actions of such people have been condemned by 17-year-old Cleethorpes student Chelsea Cowling.
She had to wait an hour and 19 minutes for an ambulance because services were overstretched.
"I have on-going problems with stomach pains and I had to come home from college because I felt ill," she said.
"I was home alone and the pain got unbearable so I called my friend, Amber Wood, who came and stayed with me but I got worse and she called my stepdad who told her to get an ambulance, which is what we did.
"I started to lose consciousness and we called the ambulance three or four times before it arrived an hour and 19 minutes later.
"We were told it was because the service was so overstretched.
"People shouldn't be wasting the time of the emergency services with prank calls which cost time and money.
"It was a horrible experience having to wait for so long and I hope it never happens to anyone that needs help in the future."
The ambulance service makes a record of persistent hoax callers with a view to prosecution.
Mr Pratten added: "Only ring 999 in a real emergency and if you are unsure, call the non-emergency 111 number for advice."