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Most bizarre calls to Welsh Ambulance Service last year revealed

24 Jan 2024 3 minute read
An emergency call operator

Eating too much kebab, losing false teeth and getting a hand stuck in a letterbox are some of the most bizarre calls made to the emergency services in Wales over the past year.

Of the 414,149 calls the Welsh Ambulance Service received in 2023, 68,416 were not a life-or-death emergency.

Andy Swinburn, executive director of paramedicine, said: “Inappropriate calls put additional strain on an already overstretched service and may delay help for others.

“Our highly skilled paramedics and technicians are trained to help those whose life is in imminent danger.

“That’s people in cardiac arrest, people with chest pain or breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, choking, severe allergic reactions, catastrophic bleeding or someone who is having a stroke.

“People who’ve had a cough for a couple of days have a legitimate clinical need, but it’s ill-judged to call 999 when there are so many other ways to access help.

“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.”


The trust has released the transcripts of some of the most inappropriate calls received by its call handlers.

– 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

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****** letterbox.

Operator: How old are you?

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

– Call 5

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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5 months ago

I have seen mentally ill people harassed by the police because they have phoned 999, I have seen an obviously vulnerable and distressed woman who wasn’t receiving proper care from her CMHT painted as a public menace and threatened with jail even if her family called an ambulance…. Why aren’t these utter scumbags being dealt with in the same manner? Why is it we can fit gastric bands and spend millions “helping” (i.e. paying for nicotine replacement devices) people to quit smoking, but we can’t get mental health care or expect old people to be treated with dignity by the… Read more »

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