Diner who ‘ate too much kebab’ rang 999 - as ambulance service urges public to only call in an emergency

23 January 2024, 14:51

One person in Wales called an ambulance because they had 'eaten more kebab than I'm used to'
One person in Wales called an ambulance because they had 'eaten more kebab than I'm used to'. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

An ambulance service has revealed the scale of non-emergency calls it receives - including one person who rang 999 after eating ‘more kebab than I’m used to’.

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The Welsh Ambulance Service said it received 414,149 calls last year - with nearly 70,000 of these calls not being a life-or-death emergency.

Other calls included someone who had lost their voice, a person with a ring stuck on a finger, and someone with their hand stuck in the letterbox.

One person called an ambulance because they couldn't find their false teeth.

The service is reminding people to only dial 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured.

Andy Swinburn, executive director of paramedicine, said "inappropriate calls put additional strain on an already over-stretched service".

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"Our plea to the public is to apply your common sense - most people know the difference between a real emergency and something that is uncomfortable, painful or irritating but not life-threatening," he said.

Lee Brooks, Executive Director of Operations, said: “If it’s not a serious or life-threatening emergency, it’s really important that you consider the alternatives to 999.

“Ensure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet for things which can be treated at home, like cut fingers, headaches and sore throats.

“And if you have prescription medication, please keep on top of it and collect it on time.

“If you or your loved one is ill or injured, ask yourself whether you really need the attention of the emergency services or if you can use an alternative or make your own way to hospital.

“We’re here to help people in their hour of need, but we also need the public to take some ownership and accountability for their health and wellbeing at a time when NHS services are stretched beyond measure.”

The calls in full

Call 1

Operator: Ambulance, what’s the address of the emergency?

Caller: Hi, yeah, erm… I know it doesn’t 100% qualify as this but my wife must have accidentally rubbed chilli in her eyes and her eyes are burning. She’s tried washing them and nothing’s happening.

Call 2

Operator: Tell me exactly what’s happened.

Caller: Yesterday evening, we had some kebab, and I might have had a little bit more than I’m used to, then this morning, I’ve had a very painful stomach.

Call 3

Caller: My ring is stuck on my finger; I need it cut off.

Operator: Is your breathing normal for you?

Caller: My breathing’s fantastic, yeah.

Operator: Are you bleeding or vomiting blood?

Caller: I’m not bleeding, no.

Operator: And do you have any pain?

Caller: Yeah, a little bit.

Operator: From the information that you have provided, you do require a more detailed assessment by a nurse, so an ambulance will not be sent at this time.

Caller: How am I going to get there then? Can you just come and see me please?

Call 4

Caller: What it is with her, her voice has given on her. We don’t know what to do. We’ve tried lemon and whatever, but it’s not doing any good.

Operator: Where is she in pain?

Caller: It’s her throat. She can hardly speak.

Operator: And is it just that she’s lost her voice, is it?

Caller: Yeah.

Call 5

Operator: Ambulance service, what’s the address of the emergency?

Caller: I wouldn’t say it’s an emergency, but I don’t know how to get down to hospital. I have a piercing in my ear, and it’s pretty much been ripped out and the ball’s stuck in my ear.

Operator: So, the ball from your piercing is stuck inside your ear?

Call 6

Operator: Is the patient awake?

Caller: Yeah, it’s me, my hand’s stuck in the door.

Operator: Is the door locked at the moment?

Caller: Yeah, it’s locked. Mam! No, my hand’s stuck in the f*****g letterbox.

Operator: How old are you?

Caller: Open the door, my hand’s stuck!

Call 7

Operator: Tell me exactly what’s happened.

Caller: I’ve had a cough for the last couple of days.

Operator: What’s that sorry, you’ve got a cough?

Caller: Yeah.

Operator: We are currently experiencing a large number of life-threatening emergencies. An ambulance is not available to respond to you. Our advice is to ring 111.

Call 8

Caller: I have a bottom part denture, and I went to clean my teeth and I said, ‘Where’s my false teeth?’ This sounds crazy… but I don’t know what else to do. Could I have swallowed my false teeth?

Operator: So, you don’t know where your false teeth are?

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