Papercuts, mouldy tomatoes and other ridiculous time-wasting 999 ambulance calls

070122 Ambulance tomato

The Welsh Ambulance Service has revealed some of the most inappropriate 999 calls they received in the last year, including someone who had eaten a mouldy tomato in a sandwich and another who had a paper-cut on their arm.

One person with an earring lodged inside their ear asked for a “lift” to the Emergency Department, while another called because they had got their plaster cast wet.

Almost half a million incidents were reported to the Welsh Ambulance Service in 2021 at a time when they were experiencing unprecedented demand.

Nearly a quarter of these calls were considered non-essential, so the service is reminding people to only call 999 in a serious or life-threatening emergency.

The Welsh Ambulance Service has been supported by the military during the pandemic to deal with the demand.

Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “Our ambulance service exists to help people who are seriously ill or injured, or where there is an immediate threat to their life.“That’s people who’ve stopped breathing, people with chest pain or breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, choking, severe allergic reactions, catastrophic bleeding or someone who is having a stroke.“People with something stuck in their ear still have a clinical need, but calling 999 for that is ill-judged when there are so many other ways to access more appropriate help.“Non-essential calls represent nearly a quarter of our total 999 calls, and time spent dealing with these could be time spent helping someone in a life or death situation.”

Another example of an inappropriate call to 999 is someone who "drank apple vinegar mixed with water and lemon" resulting in diarrhoea.

The service has also reported calls from people just wanting to know when they should be taking their medication.