COASTGUARDS have urged people to use their common sense before calling after a man rang 999 – because he’d dropped his iPhone at the seaside.
The caller contacted Portland Coastguard on the emergency line after his phone slipped between rocks on a groyne.
Incredibly he expected assistance from the lifesaving emergency service to retrieve it.
Watch assistant Steve George took the call just after 1.30pm on Sunday.
He told the Echo: “The call came in on the triple nine line so red lights flashed around the room and we were all braced and prepared for an emergency.
“The man gave his position and said he was on the beach with the groyne in front of him.
“I was waiting to hear if he had his arm or his leg stuck or something like that – but it turned out the iPhone had gone down in between the rocks at Sandbanks and he required assistance to retrieve it. “There was a short pause and politely I informed him that we wouldn’t be able to help.”
He added: “We are an emergency service to help the public when lives are at risk.
“We were sat waiting, ready to send out the lifeboats or the helicopter, and it was just a chap who’d lost his phone.”
He said the caller had him on the phone for several minutes and he was typing up a log of the call until the nature of the request became clear.
He added: “If there had been a genuine emergency that would have taken it away from it.
“People have got to think like that – it may be serious to them – but there may be a real emergency happening.”
He added: “Luckily we don’t get calls of that nature very often.”
He still urged people to call the coastguard if they felt something was wrong, adding: “We’re always here to help.
“We don’t want people to be put off calling, but we would ask them to use their common sense and have some consideration.”
The coastguard and his colleagues recalled a handful of similar such 999 calls they’d received in the past including a man who wanted to know if hair removal cream was good for a jellyfish stings, and a caller who rang from inland after a bird got stuck in some chicken wire – and explained he’d rung the coastguard because it was a seagull.
Police Force Reports Surge In Hoaxers
Just this week police forces across the country have reported a surge in time-wasting or hoax calls putting pressure on already overstretched staff.
Some of the thousands of hoax or inappropriate calls to emergency services recorded over the past year include: l A man in the East Midlands who rang for help when his pigeon suffered breathing difficulties.
- A caller who complained he hadn’t slept in two days.
- Someone who dialled 999 wanting help changing batteries in a remote control.
- A man who said he was bleeding after squeezing a spot.
- A malicious caller who was prosecuted for ringing police 23 times asking for a lift from Hartlepool to Stockton.
- A Leeds ambulance service was kept on the line for over half an hour by an apparently terrified three-year-old – which turned out to be a hoax by two ten-year-old girls.