5 March 2014 - NWAS Receives Inappropriate Ca-nine, Nine, Nine Call

A Paramedic was called to a potentially life threatening emergency this week, only to discover that the 'patient' concerned was, in fact, a dog.

A 999 call was made to the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, reporting a male was fitting.  Before the Emergency Medical Dispatcher could take any more details, the caller cleared the line and did not answer follow-up calls from the Trust. Fearing the worst, the Service dispatched a Paramedic in a Rapid Response Vehicle which raced through traffic to the scene of the emergency, using blue lights and sirens. 

On arrival at the scene, the Paramedic grabbed her kit and rushed into the address where she was greeted by a woman and two men. The Paramedic asked the group where she could find the patient and the group pointed towards a deceased dog on the floor.

Speaking of the incident, the Paramedic said: "I had just been to a cardiac arrest patient so was obviously very shocked at this call - it was written all over my face. I told them that they should have called a vet, not 999."

Director of Operations at NWAS, Derek Cartwright said: "Although we understand that losing a family pet can be upsetting, this incident is a blatant misuse of the emergency ambulance service. A person with a serious or life-threatening condition could have been waiting longer than necessary for our help because of this call. We only have a limited number of ambulance staff and vehicles, about 300 on average, to respond to the 3000 plus emergency calls that we receive every day across the North West.

"When ambulance staff travel on blue lights and sirens they are risking their lives for the benefit other people. Please remember that ambulances are for emergencies only and that there are other care options available such as visiting a GP or a walk-in centre, calling NHS 111 or, in this case, calling on the emergency response service provided by most vets."

The incident illustrates the need for #Team999 - NWAS' new public education initiative which aims to show people when it's appropriate to call 999 and the care options available when they do - A call to NWAS does not necessarily mean receiving an ambulance or being taken to hospital.

As part of the campaign, seven representative Trust staff members have been introduced to the public through social media takeovers, road shows, short films and a range of other activities to further increase public awareness. You can find out more about the #Team999 campaign by visiting: www.nwas.nhs.uk/team999