The BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) is asking the public to really think hard about whether a situation is an emergency or not before dialling 9-1-1.
Medical dispatchers answered over 394,000 calls in 2012, and while most of those calls were indeed for actual emergencies — cardiac arrests to childbirths to motor vehicle incidents — some were not quite so urgent.
According to a BCAS communication, there have been some very strange calls indeed:
— I think my house is infested with fleas. Can someone come and check it out?
— I can’t get through to my cell provider. Can you help me?
— My husband is driving me crazy. I need you to take him away.
— I need you to get hold of my doctor for me; the office is closed.
— I’m out of beer.
— I swallowed toothpaste. I didn’t spit it out. Will it make me sick?
— There’s a dead crow in my yard. Could I get West Nile disease from it?
— I don’t need an ambulance, but if I do how much does it cost?
— I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning. Could yo call me at 8:00 so I’m not late?
— What’s the phone number to the hospital nearest me?
“It’s important to remember that we’re here to help people with emergency medical situations,” said BCAS Director of Dispatch Operations Gord Kirk. “Calls that are inappropriate divert resources from those who need swift medical attention.”