Welsh Ambulance Service's transcripts of "inappropriate" emergency calls

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/01/26/unnecessary-emergency-calls.html


“Ah need a Bambulance!”


“How old are you?” :laughing:


Locally, we have a 311 system, also–it can access the 911 system at low priority (dispatch isn’t going to answer a 311 if they have pending 911 calls) and a bunch of other things that aren’t emergencies but should be addressed. I’ve called it for things like broken traffic lights, things in the road that somebody should go pick up before they cause an accident etc. On the other hand, the Friday night I tried to call about a RV parked as if it was looking for an accident (effectively one lane piece of asphalt out away from the city–they had “parked” where there wasn’t space and part of the RV went to about the midpoint of the road. Night, the first drunk that comes along is either going to hit it or run off the road) nobody ever picked up.

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They do these stories like once a year, but these seem pretty mild. I remember one really good crop featuring “shampoo in eyes” and “forgot how to burp”


Most of these sure seem like emergencies that I’d want immediate medical attention for, preferably if they came to me, especially if I was unable to transport myself or if I was really far from a hospital.

which exactly? the closest might be the hand stuck in the letterbox(!?) but there’s already another person there who can help.

something like chili in the eye might require a call to a hospital help line, but not the paramedics.


There is a 111 service which (eventually) will connect you to a GP, which would be the preferred route, I expect the call handlers directed at least some of the 16% to call that.

I can imagine there are many incidents that do require an ambulance that aren’t “life-or-death”.


@pesco The link to the source is broken. Instead of a valid URL it is


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112: single EU emergency number

112 is the European emergency number you can dial free of charge from fixed and mobile phones everywhere in the EU. It will get you straight through to the emergency services – police, ambulance, fire brigade.

National emergency numbers are still in use too, alongside 112. But 112 is the only number you can use to access the emergency services in all EU countries.

When you’re travelling in the EU, remember to take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you. If you need emergency medical care, the EHIC card will simplify the paperwork and help you get refunded for any public health care expenses.

116 000: missing children

If your child goes missing, whether at home or in another EU country, you can call 116 000, the hotline for missing children. The 116 000 hotline is currently available in all 27 EU countries.

You can use the hotline to report a missing child; it also provides guidance and support to the families of missing children.


It’s a pastime for British arseholes.




since nobody knows the number to the local police department, the etiquette used to be dial 911 and when they picked up say “non emergency, please,” and they’d transfer you to the PD.
but now when I do that, the operator says 911 is now accepting all calls, emergency or no. which really makes more sense. I mean, how the fuck do I know what the proper number is to call if I get red pepper in my eyes?
this is in Atlanta, Ga. not sure for elsewhere.


Hasn’t the city (or maybe it was Dekalb?) set up a number for non-emergencies as an alternative to calling 911? :thinking: Don’t know if they deal with red pepper in the eye emergencies? :grimacing: Ouch!


Call #2: the “painful stomach” might be appendicitis, and an ambulance may be faster and safer than driving yourself. Call #4: person who can’t speak may be suffering from a stroke. Call #6: sure, you could wait for mom or dad to come home and try to unstick your hand, but by that time you may have permanent nerve damage.


you are giving people a lot more benefit of the doubt than i think they deserve.

in all those cases there’s already another person at hand. they’re awake and aware enough to be talking and are otherwise healthy. a call to the doctor is really right start. or a locksmith.

these are the signs of a stroke btw:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

a hoarse throat isn’t that.

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That’s what 111 is for. If they think there is an emergency they will call an ambulance.


Obviously don’t call them is someone has collapsed, is struggling to breath or is unconscious. Those are what 999 is for, and the ambulance will get there faster if people aren’t calling them for indigestion and sore throats.


…like the time my BF re-dislocated his shoulder.

Even tho I don’t have contacts anymore, we keep a bottle of saline solution in the medicine chest for rinsing out stubbon eyelashes and other minor irritants.

Red pepper would cause an ER case, I would think! They doubtless have something better than plain saline for that.

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IANAD, but usually you just get eye wash for that. I wouldn’t call 999 for it, and I have had worse chillies get in my eye than the cayenne pepper most people have in their kitchen.

Things might be different for the superhot chillies, at that point you have effectively pepper sprayed yourself and that might be a medical emergency.

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