Dandruff and sick cats: the top ten weird reasons for calling Northamptonshire's ambulance service

A sick cat, dandruff and someone who wanted the ambulance service to do their shopping are just some of the inappropriate 999 calls East Midlands emergency call handlers have taken in the last month.

Make the right call
Make the right call

The East Midlands Ambulance Service answer over 2,000 emergency calls a day from people requiring urgent medical assistance for cardiac arrests, strokes, breathing difficulties and serious injuries.

Some of the 999 calls are, however, not for emergency situations and therefore prevent someone in an urgent situation from receiving the help they need.

Inappropriate calls made to EMAS in March included a man who was kicked out of a club after a night out but had no money to get home, and someone who had been waiting in A&E for an hour and a half and called 999 rather than speak to the hospital reception.

An emergency call handler

Simon Tomlinson, general manager of the Emergency Operations Centres, has stressed that people only dial 999 in the event of a serious emergency and that there are other options available, such as calling NHS 111, contacting your GP or pharmacist, or visiting an NHS Walk in Centre.

He said: “When you call 999 because someone is unconscious, not breathing, having chest pains or has the symptoms of a stroke, you are making the right call.

“Our emergency call handlers are trained to deliver life-saving instructions over the phone and we will get help to you as quickly as possible.

“Every 999 call is assessed so that the right help is provided to the right people, so you could receive the right treatment for you more quickly by contacting an alternative NHS service particularly if your call is not a serious emergency.”

An emergency call handler

Of the 66,621 999 calls received in March, 6,450 of them were ‘unknown’ calls. These are often calls made by people who are not near the patient and so do not know what is wrong with them but are calling to report ‘something they think they have seen’.

Last month emergency call handlers were able to help many people in a genuine emergency, including 765 calls for people in cardiac or respiratory arrest, 5,417 calls for people with chest pain, 1,756 calls to report a stroke, and 5,498 calls for assistance with breathing difficulties.

In order to raise awareness, EMAS will be live tweeting from the 999 control room from 2pm tomorrow (April 7) to raise awareness about the emergency calls they receive on a daily basis.

10 inappropriate 999 calls received by EMAS in March

1. A dead cat

2. Dandruff

3. Wants us to go shopping for her

4. Took dressing off blister on foot and now hurts to walk

5.Man called to say bitten by dog – but the incident was two months ago

6. Angry man kicked out of a club and has no money to get home as he spent all his money on night out

7. Bitten by hamster– Minor injury and plaster needed.

8. Sore on nose and waiting for GP to call back

9. Waiting in A&E for 1.5 hours so called 999

10. Man called for ambulance for his cat