Think Before You Call

13 December 2018

Would you call 999 for a sick animal, sore knee or if you are a bit drunk and mistakenly think you can get a lift home in an ambulance?

Unfortunately some people do!

But while we are dealing with inappropriate 999 calls, we can’t help those who are in a time-critical life-threatening condition.

The Campaign

We have launched our Think Before You Call campaign to raise awareness of the correct use of the emergency ambulance service and to reduce the number of inappropriate calls at our busiest time of the year.

We anticipate that we will deal with over 65,000 calls in the three-week festive period from 17 December.

Ambulances can be diverted to patients where there is a more urgent clinical need or risk to life, but not once they have arrived on scene with their patient.

Around 30% of patients will not need to be taken to hospital. Instead they will be given advice over the phone or signposted to an alternative and more appropriate healthcare service.

We’ve produced a series of hard-hitting messages and videos to highlight that inappropriate calls mean that staff in the Emergency Operations Centre and ambulance crews out on the road may not be available for people who genuinely need their help.

Genuine 999 calls include chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe loss of blood, severe burns and scalds, choking, fitting/convulsions, drowning, severe allergic reaction, heart attack, stroke and major trauma such as a serious road traffic accident, stabbing, shooting, fall from height or a serious head injury.

For other illnesses and injuries please consider other more appropriate healthcare services such as:

  • Self-care
  • Pharmacist
  • Visit the NHS website
  • GP
  • Call NHS 111 or visit
  • Urgent care or walk-in centre
  • Minor injuries unit
  • Make your own way to your local A&E

For more information about each alternative healthcare service click here

Support the Campaign

Please help us spread the word and ensure that emergency ambulances are always available for those who need them most.

Download the following resources:

Press Release Remember your ambulance service is for life-threatening emergencies – Please use it appropriately!

Watch and share these short videos

Think Before You Call Video 1

Think Before You Call Video 2

Think Before You Call Video 3

Produced by: Corporate Communications Department