The National Ambulance Service (NAS) received nearly 1,400 spoof or hoax calls last year, requiring every call to be thoroughly screened to determine if it was an emergency.
Numbers from the NAS reveal that The number of prank or sham calls rose sharply in the second half of last year, from just 76 in January to 151 in December.
Months typically associated with school holidays also saw higher rates of fake or prank calls, including June (152) and July (153), although the August number was 125.
According to the NAS, calls where the caller ended the call before providing enough details to warrant dispatching an ambulance were classified as hoaxes.
They also occurred when criteria for dispatching an ambulance were not met or in cases where a crew responded but nothing was found.
The NAS said 911 operators have experience weeding out bogus calls through set questions to check if an ambulance is needed.
“Other signs include the caller (adult or child) laughing. The trained emergency response partner would escalate a suspected prank call to the control supervisor, who would assess the authenticity of the call, analyze it and make a decision on it,” it said.
The service received more than 363,000 calls last year, only a small proportion of which were prank calls.
Detailed data on the number of emergency calls showed peaks in January, July, August and December, when at least 32,000 calls were made each month, or at least 1,000 per day.
The numbers for a few months were significantly lower, with 27,133 calls received in March and just 24,639 in February last year.
Of all the calls made directly by the public, just over 120,000 were classified as Echo or Delta, representing the most serious life-threatening emergencies related to cardiac, respiratory or other critical illness and accidents.
Another 109,000 calls were categorized as Bravo or Charlie incidents, both of which relate to non-life threatening incidents that still require urgent response. The remaining calls – nearly 42,000 – were classified as Alpha or Omega, which refers to calls that were not serious or life-threatening, or included minor illnesses and injuries.
Overall, the most urgent echo and delta calls accounted for about 44 percent of the total incoming emergency calls, while bravo or charlie calls accounted for about 40 percent. The remaining calls consisted of about 15 percent alpha or omega calls and about half a percent calls that were considered false or false.
The NAS said the figures did not include the Dublin Fire Brigade, which also operates emergency services in the capital. However, the emergency services also received around 92,000 calls from GPs’ offices and other medical sources, according to records released under FOI, although no breakdown of their urgency was provided.
The NAS said prank calls can cost valuable time, money and maybe even lives if answered during times of particularly high demand.
“Our paramedics must attend to genuine emergencies and should not be busy responding to malicious false alarms,” a spokesman said.
They said that while hoax and bogus calls made up a small percentage of the total calls received, they were dangerous.
“We treat every 112/999 call as urgent and cannot assume every call is a hoax. Calling in an ambulance or fire department “for fun” is absolutely criminal and cannot be tolerated,” the spokesman said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/ringing-for-a-laugh-is-criminal-ambulance-service-got-almost-1400-hoax-calls-last-year-41675095.html Ringing “for a laugh” is criminal – the emergency services received nearly 1,400 prank calls last year