Scan­dal of 999 call over dead squir­rel

Anger as time wasters put peo­ple’s lives at risk

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

A drown­ing gold­fish, a cat with a bro­ken leg, a dead squir­rel and a drunk want­ing a taxi are some of the lat­est ‘emer­gency’ calls re­ceived by the re­gion’s am­bu­lance ser­vice so far this sum­mer. New fig­ures re­veal that the East of Eng­land Am­bu­lance Ser­vice re­ceived 1,144 hoax calls over the last two years which di­verted time away from gen­uine emer­gen­cies.

One of those calls was a man ‘in the Peter­bor­ough area’ ask­ing for an “an­i­mal am­bu­lance” for a dead squir­rel, while a woman from the city called the am­bu­lance ser­vice about a cat with a bro­ken leg.

Away from Cam­bridgeshire, there was even a drunk man out­side an Es­sex night­club who called ask­ing for a taxi and a child who told a call han­dler in Chelms­ford that their gold­fish was“dr own­ing .”

Gary Mor­gan, head of emer­gency op­er­a­tions cen­tres, said: “Just be­cause 999 is an easy to re­mem­ber num­ber does not meanit is ac­cept­able for peo­ple to mis­use it or treat it as a tele­phone direc­tory.

“Hoax and in­ap­pro­pri­ate 999 calls have the po­ten­tial to dive rt at­ten­tion away from real emer­gen­cies andwewil­l­re­fer peo­ple who mis­use the ser­vice to our po­lice col­leagues to take ac­tion.

“We’d urge the pub­lic to re­mem­ber that the am­bu­lance ser­vice is for emer­gen­cies such as car­diac ar­rests, pa­tients with chest pain and breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, un­con­scious­ness, strokes, trauma, chok­ing and se­vere al­ler­gic re­ac­tions.”

There were 190 hoax calls in Cam­bridgeshire fromApril 2014 to March 2016, plac­ing it se­cond among the six coun­ties the am­bu­lance ser­vice op­er­ates in.

Only Es­sex with 320 hoax calls had a higher num­ber.

An audio of the call about the squir­rel can be heard on the Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph web­site - www. pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk.

For more in­for­ma­tion on when to call 999, visit http:// www.eas­t­amb.nhs.uk/yours­er­vice/cam­paigns/its-your­call.htm.

An am­bu­lance crew on standby at Peter­bor­ough City Hos­pi­tal.

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