‘I’ve got a moth in my ear’: East Midlands Ambulance Service reveals time-wasting 999 calls

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) receives 13 per cent of calls that do not require urgent medical assistance
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) receives 13 per cent of calls that do not require urgent medical assistance

The East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has revealed details of time-wasting 999 calls it received in 2015.

Emergency phone calls made to the ambulance service included one person who said they had popcorn being stuck in-between their teeth and another form a patient wanting to be carried upstairs because their stair lift was broken.

Another person phoned for an ambulance because their milk had gone past its sell-by date and one woman phoned 999 because she was late having her period.

Other time-wasting 999 calls included someone who rang to say a hamster had bitten somebody’s finger, someone had dropped their keys down a drain, someone who said there was a dead cat outside their house, a patient who said they had a moth was in their ear and someone who had a broken toe nail.

One person also called EMAS because they had swallowed a broken finger nail and were worried they would choke on it.

The ambulance service said 13 per cent of the 999 calls received did not require urgent medical assistance.

On average EMAS receives 2000 calls a day – a new call every 43 seconds and, during 2014/15, it responded to 643,115 calls.

An EMAS spokesman said: “It is important to recognise that the majority of people who call 999 do so because they believe it is the right service for them, and we regularly congratulate child callers who have helped to save a life by calling 999.

“In these cases it is often apparent that the parents or guardian of those children have spent time talking to them about responsible use of emergency numbers.

“We have High Volume Service User leads that monitor calls from people who make regular inappropriate calls. As a result, care plans are put in place to provide these patients with better access and support from local health and social care teams, or if it is clear the 999 system is being abused on a regular basis EMAS takes legal action.”

If it is not an immediate emergency, people should call NHS111 (free telephone number) and get advice, or visit www.nhs.uk to find other local urgent care centre and walk-in services.