Ambulance service warns about hoax calls after Bridlington incident

Dr David Macklin, associate medical director at Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
Dr David Macklin, associate medical director at Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

MORE than 2,000 calls made to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service 
between last April and March of this year turned out to be hoaxes.

During this time period the Yorkshire Ambulance Service received more than 750,000 urgent and emergency calls, of which 2,274 were hoaxes – this equates to an average of 44 every week.

These latest statistics come as the service has urged people not to abuse the 999 system in the wake of a hoax call made by two 10-year-old Bridlington girls which sparked a national police search.

Dr David Macklin, Associate Medical Director at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “People don’t always consider what might happen as a result of their irresponsible actions and misuse of the 999 system could delay us being able to provide life-saving treatment to someone who is genuinely ill or injured.

“In addition, hoax calls can cause frustration amongst staff who believe they are dealing with a genuine emergency call.”

A spokesperson for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service said they usually receive an increased number of hoax calls during the school holidays.

“One reason for this is that youngsters and teenagers can be tempted to make false calls over the holidays due to boredom,” the spokesperson said.

As reported in last week’s Free Press a police appeal went global last Tuesday after the Yorkshire Ambulance Service received a call on Monday allegedly from a three-year-old girl called Ellie who claimed her mum had fallen over at their home in Leeds and was not moving.

During the 33-minute call Ellie said she had shouted at her mum and wiggled her but she remained on the kitchen floor with a piece of toast in her hand not moving. She said the front and back doors to her house were locked and she could not get out.

The little girl claimed her house number was 23, had ‘Court’ in the street name, and said her grandparents lived in Bridlington.

But ambulance control staff could not trace the call and West Yorkshire Police issued an urgent appeal to try and track down the caller in what was thought to be a race against time.

Detectives spent hours making enquiries, including checks on police systems, hospitals, and the public register of births while the appeal was broadcast on news channels, websites and social networking sites around the world.

But within hours police had traced the number to a mobile phone used by two 10-year-old girls in Bridlington.

The girls were spoken to by officers who liaised with their parents and partner agencies to decide on what action to take.

At the time of going to press a spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said that enquiries into the case were still ongoing.