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Inappropriate calls to emergency services in Cornwall rise

Inappropriate calls to emergency services in Cornwall rise

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:29am 25th December 2019. (Updated at 9:33am 26th December 2019)

Emergency services across Cornwall and the south-west are urging residents to think before calling 999 this Christmas. 

Demand for ambulance and police services increases over the festive period and into the New Year.

Ambulance staff responded to more than 3,000 calls a day and, compared to last year, Devon and Cornwall Police recorded a rise of 23% in November alone.

Some of the inappropriate calls to South Western Ambulance Service have to be heard to be believed, including a man blocked in by an ambulance on an emergency call!

Inappropriate Ambulance Service 999 Calls


The south-west trust has released the montage as a warning that unnecessary calls at this time of year could delay responses to those patients most in need of emergency help. 

“All our staff in the Control Room and out on the road work extremely hard throughout the busy winter season to deliver the right care for our patients. 

“The 999 service should only be used for genuine, time-critical and life-threatening situations when emergency care really could be the difference between life and death.

“If you call 999 because someone is unconscious, not breathing, or has serious bleeding, you are making the right call. 

“But calling for an ambulance when it is not absolutely necessary puts additional pressure on our limited resources, and may mean we cannot reach those who are most in need. 

"During peak periods like the festive season every inappropriate call can put lives at risk and delay our response to genuine emergencies. 

“Please think carefully before calling 999 and ask yourself: ‘Is it a real emergency?’”

Steve Boucher, SWASFT County Commander for Somerset.

People should always call 999 if someone has stopped breathing, has severe chest pain, is choking, may be having a stroke, has serious blood loss, or is unconscious. 

For less serious conditions people could phone NHS 111, visit a GP or pharmacy, or go to NHS walk-in centre.

Meanwhile Devon and Cornwall Police have launched their own campaign, creating a series of funny videos to accompany inappropriate calls on their social media platforms which can be found here.

All the videos illustrate real calls the force has received and were not emergencies.

The force hopes the comical and ridiculous nature of the calls will encourage people to share them and help educate people as to what is and is not an emergency.

“999 calls take precedence for the force, and we will always prioritise these calls. However, we have seen an increased demand in the numbers of 999 calls both genuine and not that we have received this year already, and we are expecting this to increase further during the festive season. 

“As many as one in three calls to 999 are not emergencies. The calls we’ve chosen to highlight not only show the misappropriate use of 999 but the lack of understanding of what is an emergency. 

“We aim to answer 999 calls within 10 seconds, but if operators find themselves continually tied up with improper calls this prevents us dealing with genuine emergencies. By highlighting some of the more comical inappropriate calls we hope this will help people understand the importance of the using the emergency 999 number for the right reasons. 

 “We realise that sometimes people don’t know who to contact, and often see the police as their first port of call, especially if they feel there is a need for an immediate answer. However, we would ask, if your call clearly isn’t an emergency and you need help or advice then visit our website – dc.police.uk where you can find the answer to the most commonly asked questions. 

“Our website has a wealth of information to help resolve queries, you can also use AskNED – our non-emergency directory which can help with all manner of questions. Plus you can report non-emergency queries easily by using our online contact methods – Webchat, Email 101 and Report Crime Online.”

Chief Superintendent Dan Evans from Devon & Cornwall Police

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