Is your call really an emergency?

Tuesday 2nd December – 10.50m – Jamie Arrowsmith

Whilst it may seem like a sensible question, the ambulance service is running a campaign this week to appeal to members of the public to stop and think before dialling 999.

Video: Emergency Operations Centre Commander Jenny Cocks and Paramedic Ruth Lester make a plea to the public to only call 999 in life-threatening situations.

The campaign will feature video messages from front-line and control room staff asking people to use the ambulance service wisely. We will also be releasing clips from several 999 calls to show the stark difference between what is an appropriate and inappropriate call. In addition, we will be tweeting live from one of the Trust’s control rooms tomorrow (Wednesday) to follow the day in the life of a call assessor.

Jenny Cocks, the Trust’s Emergency Operations Centre Commander in Brierley Hill, said: “When you call 999 the questions that we ask are vital for us to be able to get the right help, to the right people, as quickly as possible.

“We receive about 3,000 calls a day but unfortunately not all of these are appropriate for the ambulance service and sometimes people do forget that 999 is for life threatening injuries and illnesses. Our call assessors also have to deal with verbal abuse and hoax calls which is disappointing when all they want to do is help people in their hour of need.

“While we’re dealing with these calls there are less call assessors available to deal with that life threatening emergency. Please think before calling 999.”

Ruth Lester, a Paramedic based in Willenhall, said: “I spent three years training to be a paramedic to go out and try and save lives, I didn’t spend my training to treat patients with cut fingers, really bad colds and hangovers.

“If you’ve had a minor accident like a cut finger or a sprained ankle the please look at other avenues, please don’t waste our time. There are things such as NHS 111, the pharmacist or there’s self-care. Only use the ambulance service if you have a life-threatening emergency.”



  1. My daughter took some pills and she feels poorly she cannot keep anything down I told her day but no reply from him could anyone go and check on her thank you

    1. Patricia…you need to use the NHS via the normal means to get assistance. In the first instance, you might want to try 111, or if you believe the situation is life threatening, dial 999.

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