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Wasting Emergency Services Time

Tue Mar 19, 2002 9:40 pm

Taken from http://www.manchesteronline.co.uk/news/content.cfm?story=268553

NB: All non-UK viewers, for "999" read "911".

999 call-out for broken finger nail

Paramedics answered a 999 call from a woman with a broken finger nail. And the fire service has been asked for advice about a leaky tap.

These are just two of the 375,000 time-wasting 999 calls made in the past year, putting other people's lives in danger.

The fire service, police and ambulance are launching a Think Before You Dial campaign in Bolton, Wigan and Leigh to help to reduce the number of calls that waste their time. If the campaign is successful, it will be extended across Greater Manchester.

The police have been called by someone asking for transport to court. And another caller asked for train times and road directions.

The fire service has been asked about leaks, and if it could help someone who had locked themselves out of their home.

Meanwhile, the ambulance service has been called to someone with an itchy back, period pains and broken finger nails.

Insp Mark Lee, from Greater Manchester police, said: "Last year, 75 per cent of our 999 calls were not real emergencies.

"We are asking people to think before they dial, and, if the situation is not an emergency, then please consider the alternatives."

County Fire Officer Barry Dixon, said: "There is no doubt that people who make malicious calls are putting lives needlessly at risk.

"People should remember that malicious calls can have very serious consequences and a fire engine cannot be in two places at once."

Greater Manchester ambulance service chief cxecutive John Burnside, added: "The most important message we want to get across is that while firefighters, police and paramedics spend their time attending a trivial call out, somebody, somewhere may really need us."

"We would never discourage anyone from dialling 999 for an ambulance in a real emergency, but we would encourage people to use their common sense."

The campaign was launched yesterday at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton and is officially backed by Bolton Wanderers Football Club.

It will target two types of callers - those who put lives at risk by making hoax calls and those who make inappropriate 999 calls without thinking of the consequences.

Anyone caught making a hoax call faces a tough punishment, which could be a steep fine or even a prison sentence.

Posts: 451
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2001 9:06 pm

RE: Wasting Emergency Services Time

Tue Mar 19, 2002 11:26 pm

Paramedics answered a 999 call from a woman with a broken finger nail.

I know there are some thick women in the North West of England, but Jesus!!!  Smile

I remember whenever my mum broke a fingernail, you'd think the world had ended!
Posts: 14343
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2001 11:56 pm

RE: Wasting Emergency Services Time

Wed Mar 20, 2002 1:19 am

One question. Having found out on the 'phone that she only had a broken fingernail, why did they then send an ambulance? Surely she could have been persuaded that it was a less than valuable use of resources.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
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Joined: Thu Aug 05, 1999 1:42 pm

RE: Wasting Emergency Services Time

Wed Mar 20, 2002 1:41 pm

I know that Verizon, the telephone company for Massachusetts, has proposed a 711 number where these non-emegency calls can be directed.

In the towns where it has been rolled out, 711 has been a phenominal success. I don't remember the stats, but I know that the number of non-emergency calls to 911 was dramatically reduced.

- Neil Harrison
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Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Wasting Emergency Services Time

Wed Mar 20, 2002 5:32 pm

My borther is on the VFD squad back home. He has some good stories.

These are relativly minor.
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Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 12:47 am

RE: Wasting Emergency Services Time

Wed Mar 20, 2002 8:44 pm

My department gets these calls too. Everyone hates it, and the call usually has 2 people on the fire truck and they go 10 down the road.

You would not believe some of my stories.
Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten, Uptown, what now? Lets make it happen.
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Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2001 9:17 am

RE: Wasting Emergency Services Time

Wed Mar 20, 2002 10:07 pm

Here in NZ, the emergency number is 111; or *555 from a cellphone if you want to report a traffic matter to the Highway Patrol.

Basically, to use 111, there must be "danger to person or property" or the likelihood of such occuring.
Dingbat calls such as the examples above can see the offender being charged for the callout............ a fine for stupidity if you like!
Obviously though, if a dodgy 111 call was made in good faith, then this wouldn't happen.
There was an example here years ago where a well known morals campaigner called 111 when she noticed a group of young teens trying to get into an R18 movie.
Some people obviously need a life!!

Mike (NZWN)  Smile

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Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2001 11:56 pm

RE: Wasting Emergency Services Time

Wed Mar 20, 2002 10:19 pm

Here's a question for you all. In the good/bad old days of analogue exchanges 111 would have been the quickest number to dial, but the US chose 911 and the UK 999. I understand that the reason 111 wasn't chosen was because the exchanges could confuse 1's with 0's if there were lots of them together, hence using a 9 instead.

Presumably, as in NZ, this is no longer an issue as digital exchanges mean that whatever number you use will take the same amount of time. Can anyone verify or deny this?
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.

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