Nuisance call highlights misuse of emergency line

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A British man rang emergency services expecting operators to tell his local pharmacy to stay open late

As Victoria launches a pharmacy phase of its campaign urging patients to save calling 000 for emergencies, a case on the other side of the globe has illustrated how patients misuse emergency lines.

Surrey Live is reporting on the “bizarre” case of a man who rang Britain’s 999 demanding that his pharmacy stay open until 7.30pm.

“I’m on methadone, right, yeah? …I want to get to my chemist before half past seven,” he told the operator.

“Could you ring my chemist, can you tell them I’m going to get there by half past seven?”

When the operator asked why the man could not call the pharmacy himself, he replied that he was “sick” and had “no credit on my phone”.

“He doesn’t tell the handler which chemist he needs, nor is it clear when they shut, but he wants them to stay open and wait for him,” writes reporter Les Steed, pointing out that the caller could have honestly believed he was facing a health emergency, due to possible withdrawal symptoms.

However when the operator explained that calling the unnamed pharmacy was not part of his duties, the caller threatened him.

“If I’m f**king dead, I’ll f**cking do you,” he said, before the operator ended the call.

The report highlights past trivial uses of the 999 number, including a woman who rang it 32 times asking police to come and watch television with her, and other callers who have fabricated injuries and abused staff.

Meanwhile last year the Canberra Times also reported on frivolous reasons why ACT residents called an ambulance – including one who called to obtain medical attention for then deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.

“They were genuinely concerned that he needed quick medical attention,” ACT Ambulance Service emergency dispatcher Ian Roebuck told the Times.

“We explained that he’s an adult and can request his own ambulance.”

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