An Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) 999 call handler has taken to social media to plea with the public to use their ‘common sense’ before dialling 999.
The post was published on 3rd July as Emergency Ambulance NHS Trust’s endured an influx of calls to their control rooms.
The post said:
‘The 999 system is currently on its knees, and people are suffering and potentially dying because of it.
‘We do not have enough crews to cope with current demand.
‘EVERYONE can help out by remembering this old but simple campaign:
‘Would you call the coast guard if you fell in a puddle?
‘Would you call the fire brigade to blow out a candle?
‘Well then, if you don’t think it’s an urgent or life-threatening emergency, then use common sense and don’t waste an emergency ambulance!
‘Pharmacies, GPs and minor injuries units are all open for minor ailments / ongoing medical complaints, and 111 is 24/7 for medical advice.
‘Remember – as seen on the news – the person you are speaking to on 111 may not be a registered healthcare professional and might only be following a computers advice based on what you say.
‘If 111 advise an ambulance or hospital – do you feel you could safely make your own way to ED via friends/ relatives where appropriate? – this may be quicker in the current climate.
‘Again, do you actually feel this is an urgent problem/ life-threatening emergency needing an ambulance asap?
‘If you are not sure, do not panic; a crew will get to you when they can and will provide the appropriate onward care but understand that there may be a wait due to extreme demand.
‘Most important of all – take some responsibility for your own health and wellbeing – don’t take risks, stay well hydrated and use basic self-care / first aid to see if this fixes minor issues first and seek advice early.
‘Arriving at the hospital by ambulance will not get you seen quicker unless you are critically unwell.
‘Not wanting to wait in the phone queue to your GP surgery is not a reason for an ambulance.
‘Emergency Departments are there only for immediate life-threatening conditions; if you worried about who long you’ll be waiting, it’s time to ask yourself it you actually NEED to be there?
‘The NHS is currently fighting to keep this country safe, and the people behind the uniform across this whole country go to work are all struggling!
‘Please help us to help you!’
Speaking exclusively to Emergency Services News, another call handler, who did not want to be named, said:
‘We have seen a massive surge; we are taking more calls than we would typically take on New Year’s Eve.
‘And now our call volume is higher than that on an almost daily basis.
‘We still get people ringing us because they have got a toothache!
‘And people get sick of waiting for 111 to answer, so they ring us on 999. They start the call by saying, ‘I don’t need an ambulance, just advice’.
‘If someone is going to start their sentence with that, then they should not be calling 999’.
One comment made on the post that was shared on social media that received the most amount of ‘likes’ noted:
‘If GP surgeries actually opened their doors to patients rather than leaving them in the tender hands of the receptionists to arrange “telephone appointments” at some point we might find pressure on 999 ameliorated!!’
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