Bored kids putting lives at risk with hoax calls to ambulance service in school holidays
BORED children are putting lives at risk with crank calls to the ambulance service during the school holidays.
New figures released to the Mail have revealed there have been more than 12,000 nuisance and hoax calls to Yorkshire Ambulance Service over the past five years.
The trust has identified a spike in these types of calls when children are off school.
David Williams, deputy director of operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: "Misuse of the 999 system is very irresponsible.
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"Hoax calls can put lives in danger as they divert our ambulances, which can be a lifeline in a medical emergency, away from those who are in genuine need of time-critical medical help."
There were 750,000 urgent and emergency calls last year, of which 2,274 were hoax calls – an average of 44 per week.
Mr Williams said: "School holidays traditionally prove to be a time when the trust experiences an increase in the number of hoax calls.
"One reason for this is that youngsters and teenagers can be tempted to make false calls over the holidays due to boredom.
"Staff working in our 999 emergency operations centres are taught not to question the integrity of people calling in an emergency, so each call is treated seriously and follows the full procedure, which can result in an ambulance being sent.
"The thoughtless actions of those who make hoax calls also put a strain on our service, particularly at a time when we are dealing with an ever-increasing number of 999 calls and, while we have the Yorkshire region well covered, our resources are not unlimited."
Each nuisance call costs an average of £224 to respond to.
In five years, £1.7m of taxpayers' money has been wasted on sending paramedics to calls which are not genuine.
Mr Williams is urging people to think about the outcomes of making hoax calls.
He said: "Be mindful of the consequences of making hoax emergency calls and use your ambulance service responsibly to help ensure we are able to reach seriously ill and injured patients as quickly and as safely as possible."
The ambulance service receives around 2,050 emergency calls per day and has 4,000 members of staff.
In the past five years, 2,626 hours have been wasted attending 12,246 calls which were not genuine.
Dr David Macklin, associate medical director at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said nuisance calls also frustrated staff.
He said: "People don't always consider what might happen as a result of their irresponsible actions and misuse of the 999 system could delay us being able to provide life-saving treatment to someone who is genuinely ill or injured.
"In addition, hoax calls can cause frustration among our staff who believe they are dealing with a genuine emergency call."
The figures come after Humberside Fire and Rescue Service and Humberside Police revealed they received 1,495 calls between them last year that were either inappropriate or malicious.
Humberside Police said the majority of their calls classed as hoax are also from children who call in telephone kiosks or on mobile phones.
The number of inappropriate calls that were actually responded to by police last year was 500, out of 1,047 that were made. The number of malicious calls received by the fire service fell from 772 to 448 last year.
Last year, it was also reported Humberside Police had received 28 calls about UFOs, two about ghosts, two relating to zombies and one call each for a warlock and a witch in the past five years.