Press release: plea to public following abusive calls

Bedford EOC 1

Released to east of England media outlets today (19th January)

The majority of people calling 999 know that it’s a vital lifeline and not to be misused – but sadly, many still feel it’s acceptable to turn to 999 at the wrong time or mistreat the call handlers helping them.

In fact, verbal abuse is sad reality for our staff – and one of these calls has been released today to highlight what they go through when they pick up an emergency call.

In this case, the caller swore at a call handler 15 times in four minutes. He had called about a genuine medical emergency, but directed extremely offensive language at the call handler whilst she tried to establish the exact location of the incident.

Gary Morgan, Regional Head of Emergency Operations Centres, said: “People often call us in times of distress and deep despair, but that is no excuse for the kind of language we receive from some callers. It is very important that callers listen to the questions they are being asked and answer them clearly, so that we can help them as quickly as possible.”

The Trust is also urging people to treat 999 respectfully. Last April, we published details of eight calls to remind the public of this, and released an audio of a call made in Essex last year from a man asking for an ambulance for a dying squirrel that had been hit by a car.

Sadly, that message did not get through to everyone. In the last eight months, the service received the following 999 calls from:

  • a woman in Essex who had found a critically ill cat on her property
  • a man in north Cambridgeshire who needed assistance with his passport
  • a man in Luton who felt sick after drinking a fizzy drink too quick
  • a man in Cambridgeshire who had been scratched by a cat
  • a woman in Essex who asked for help cleaning her toilet
  • a woman in Norwich who panicked after drinking two energy drinks.

“It is extremely disappointing that people continue to call 999 for inappropriate reasons,” Gary added. “We’d urge them to think twice about calling the emergency ambulance service if it is not a life-threatening or serious medical emergency. We want to help people, and that’s what we’re here to do – but every call we get that isn’t a genuine problem for us is a call which takes away from someone who needs help fast.”

The Trust is running an EOC takeover week this week to highlight the work of the staff within our emergency operations centres. Find out more on our Facebook page, on Twitter using #EOCtakeover hashtag and visiting our

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