999 IS A LIFELINE – DON’T ABUSE IT
14 December 2009
The ambulance service has launched a fresh appeal to prevent abuse of the 999 emergency service this winter with its hitting message, ‘call an ambulance for the wrong reason and someone could die’.
As temperatures drop and the Christmas and the New Year celebrations begin the number of calls for ambulance assistance increases significantly. While many of these requests are for patients who are genuinely suffering from a life-threatening and serious illness or injury, a large proportion are for patients with non-urgent conditions where alternative care would be more appropriate.
Ian Walton, Director of A&E Operations at YAS, said: “Inappropriate calls are a big problem for the ambulance service. Whilst we will always respond to 999 calls, we often find our crews are caught up dealing with inappropriate calls where alternative care may have been more suitable.
“We are talking about people calling for an ambulance for minor ailments such as earache, cut finger and toothache. While we’re dealing with calls of this nature we might not be able to get to people who urgently need our help, and this can put the lives of other patients at risk.
“Jumping the queue at hospital emergency departments is believed to be a motive for many 999 calls. However, patients are treated at hospital according to the urgency of their medical need, regardless of how they made their way to hospital.
“We will be working hard over the coming months to meet the needs of patients who require an emergency medical response and to get to them as quickly as possible. We ask that people only call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency when it is obvious that you or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical help.”
For advice and treatment for non-emergencies, consider options such as a visit to your local pharmacist or GP surgery, a call to NHS Direct or visit a walk-in centre.
The Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s message to the public is simple:
- Don’t hesitate to call 999 in a medical emergency which is a critical or life-threatening situation, such as a suspected heart attack, chest pain, unconsciousness, heavy blood loss, serious accident, broken bones, severe breathing difficulties or head injuries.
- If you need simple medical advice, or information on GP opening hours, there is a range of other services, like NHS Direct, your GP or pharmacy, which could be more appropriate to your needs.
- Before calling 999, think whether you really need emergency medical help – or if someone else’s need could be greater.
Examples of when you should call 999 for an ambulance:
- chest pain,
- difficulty in breathing
- loss of consciousness
- heavy loss of blood
- severe burns and scalds
- severe allergic reaction
- head injury.
Please note: This is not an exhaustive list
Issued by - YAS Press Office
For further information please contact 0845 120 0048 or email email@example.com
Produced By: Corporate Communications Department