If it’s not serious, don’t call
TRIPLE-0 ONLY FOR EMERGENCY
PUT down that phone if it’s only a cold.
That’s the message from paramedics who have declared war on people making trivial triple-0 calls for sniffles, sore throats, grazed knees and hangovers.
The NSW Ambulance Service said the days of paramedic crews treating minor ailments are over, as it battles to deal with an extra 132 calls a day this winter from people with cold and flu symptoms.
They are also desperate to end call-outs for people with hangovers, whose “emergency” can be treated with two Panadol tablets and a warm bed.
“A small proportion of people have a perception that if you dial triple-0 an ambulance is going to come quickly,” NSW Ambulance chief executive commissioner Ray Creen said.
“If you are in a lifethreatening situation then of course the cavalry will come over the hill, but if it’s a minor ailment we would be looking to refer or treat you other ways.
“While we are dealing with your minor ailment, someone else’s life is probably in the balance because we are not responding to them,” he said.
Paramedics said recent call-outs had included treationg toothaches and period pain.
One patient demanded an ambulance because the antibiotics they had taken four hours ago had not taken effect.
Another scraped his foot on the dresser.
Ambos arrived to find the man in his 20s walking around with a very minor injury, but “he still insisted on being taken to hospital”.
Commissioner Creen said the upcoming “Is Your Urgency an Emergency” campaign was aimed at educating people to not always expect an ambulance.
“The online campaign isn’t designed to discourage people from calling triple-0,” he said.
He said more patients could expect to be handed over to Healthdirect, a phone service staffed by registered nurses.
Other patients could now organise to have a doctor visit them at home.
This winter NSW Ambulance has seen a 4 per cent increase in the 3300 calls it normally gets a day, equating to about 132 extra calls daily. The campaign follows law changes made June 1 which give State Government debt collectors greater powers when recovering millions of dollars in unpaid ambulance fees.