Help, I've spilt my Pot Noodle

By James HoreIF you have spilt your Pot Noodle or needed your pillows plumping up, not many people would pick up the phone and dial 999 for an ambulance.

By James Hore

IF you have spilt your Pot Noodle or needed your pillows plumping up, not many people would pick up the phone and dial 999 for an ambulance.

But they were two of the more shocking abuses of the emergency system that Essex Ambulance Service highlighted yesterday as it urged the public to think twice before dialling 999.

The service said one caller had actually dialled 999 and asked for their pillows to be plumped, another had wanted a broken fingernail to be examined and a third had spilt his Pot Noodle and was seeking help.


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Now its chief executive has appealed to the public to think twice about wasting the service's valuable time before they dialed 999.

Last week was one of the busiest periods for ambulance control room staff with more than 2,500 calls made between Thursday and Sunday.

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From 7pm on Friday until 7am the next day there were more calls than on New Year's Eve last year.

But with just 20 % of cases being genuine emergencies needing an ambulance, staff are trying to remind the public there are other options for getting medical help or advice - including phoning NHS Direct or booking an appointment with a doctor.

Anthony Marsh, chief executive of Essex Ambulance Service, said people should always ring 999 if it was a genuine emergency.

“At this time of year, the service is particularly busy and it is important that people remember ambulances should be here to deal with genuine emergencies,” he added.

“Of course we must stress that if someone is very concerned about a situation they should not put themselves or someone else at risk.

“However, what we are trying to reduce is the type of call which needs a response of some sort, but not a 'blue-light' ambulance.”

Mr Marsh said the season of parties and Christmas drinking had played its part in the increased number of emergency calls last week.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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