Ambulance Service inundated with self-harm 999 calls

Self-harm 999 calls to the Ambulance Service are on the increase.

Staff have said that the number of distress calls from people struggling with their mental health has always been high, but they are seeing a rise. 

UTV spent a day filming within the control room at NIAS headquarters in Belfast.

We saw first hand the large volume of calls of self harm coming through.

Michelle Foster, a duty control manager for NIAS, said such calls are very common.

“When I started here 14 years ago that was one of the things that surprised me - the number of suicidal calls that we received. 

“We are glad that people can ring us, to make contact, so that we can help and support them,” she said.

But, she added, that the only thing the Ambulance Service can do “is send the ambulance crew to them to bring them to the Emergency Department, to a place of safety”.

She said: “It has an impact on our call takers eventually over time. Our call taker will stay on the phone with them until an ambulance crew arrives.

"So it does tie up that call taker because they can’t take other emergency calls. But we have to provide that support for somebody and ensure they are safe and in a place of safety.”

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