North West Ambulance Service is urging members of the public to only call 999 if there's a genuine emergency – after one caller requested shopping and a shower.
Call handlers for the service answer upwards of 50 calls during their 12-hour shifts, many of which relate to serious and life-threatening emergencies.
But every so often they answer a call from someone whose situation is not so urgent.
NWAS has posted a video on its Facebook page in which dispatcher Daniel Kenyon describes taking a call from a woman who had rung 999 because she wanted some groceries and a shower.
The post reads: “Can you imagine working a 12 hour shift like Emergency Medical Dispatcher Daniel, taking at least 50 calls and this being one of them? Wanting some groceries and needing a shower is not a reason to call 999. #MakeTheRightCall.”
In the video Daniel describes taking ‘50 to 70’ calls throughout a 12 hour shift.
He said: “We take life threatening, serious calls which are important, but we take some other calls – for instance today a lady called who said she only had cheese and milk in and did not have a shower, and she wanted an emergency ambulance to go round and get shopping for her and wash her.”
The MEN reports that other Facebook users reacted with shock and anger in the comments below the post.
Sheryl Seddon said: “People who abuse the service should be fined!”
And Helen R Hacking added: “These time wasters need to be fined or 2 strikes and that’s it no more 999 help! Cry wolf...”
Last year the North West Ambulance Service marked the 80th anniversary of the launch of the 999 emergency number by releasing audio of some of the more bizarre calls its handlers have taken.
These include a man who tries to order an ambulance in advance, saying he ‘might need it later’; another man whose emergency is that he ‘just wanted to go home’; and a woman whose dog has been run over.
But while it’s possible to see the funny side, these calls take up vital time and resources that should be dedicated those with a genuine emergency.
Director of operations at NWAS Ged Blezard said: “Our call centre staff work very hard and play a vital role in the care of our patients. There are people alive today because of their actions.”