Emergency...My budgie’s got breathing problems

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Pranksters who call 999 with non-emergencies are being warned they could face prison by outraged ambulance bosses.

East Midlands Ambulance Service receives an emergency call every 45 seconds – but 72 per cent are not for life-threatening situations while some are just plain wacky.

A list of bizarre calls include a person complaining to have breathing difficulties only for paramedics to find the patient was in fact a budgerigar.

In two other cases of people saying they were struggling to breathe ambulance staff turned up to find one patient was bored, while the other’s fridge had broken.

Another person called up because he wanted a sniff of oxygen.

In response to the abuse of the emergency hotline the ambulance service has said it will not hold back on taking those responsible to court.

Three months ago a Derbyshire man who persistently rang 999 without requiring emergency medical response was given a suspended four-week jail term.

Assistant director of operations Richard Clayton warned anyone who frequently calls for a non-emergency will be monitored and potentially charged.

He said: “The examples we have released are a disgraceful misue of public money and the expertise of our staff.

“Each call we attend ties that ambulance crew up and means they are unable to attend any real emergency in the area.

“At a time we are already seeing a vast increase in ambulance activity I would urge people to think twice before they make that call.”

Before calling 999, the service is asking people to think if a doctor would be a more suitable option.

Deputy director of operations Ben Holdaway said: “If people dial 999 for a problem which is not a genuine emergency they could delay the response to someone in a life-threatening condition.

“Some people who have a minor illness or injury think if they arrive at hospital in an ambulance they will be seen more quickly than if they arrive by car, taxi or public transport. This is not true.

“Every patient is assessed on their clinical need, and those with life-threatening conditions will always be seen as a priority.”