Hoax calls can put lives at risk.

That’s the stark warning from paramedics who are urging parents to keep an eye on their mobile phones after a number of prank calls from children this summer.

The 999 control hubs in the South West have received a number of hoax calls that have resulted in vital emergency resources being sent to people’s houses only to find no one there when they arrive.

When they rang the caller back they were met with children laughing. A spokesman for the service said that the wasted journey meant that the crew were unable to attend genuine patients in need of care.

All emergency calls are recorded and can be traced - and SWASFT have warned that they will prosecute offenders if necessary. The service has released an audio recording of one of the hoax calls from a child to show what they are dealing with.

Last year, in 2017, 774 hoax calls were made to the ambulance service which distracted paramedics from attending 91 real emergencies.

South Western Ambulance Service chief executive Ken Wenman said: “Making hoax calls can put lives at risk. We strongly encourage parents to impress upon their children the importance of only dialling 999 in a genuine emergency situation. It is vital that people understand and appreciate the consequences associated with making hoax calls. We work with the police and other partners to seek the prosecution of people who abuse the 999 system.”

Examples of when to call 999 include choking, chest pain, stroke, serious blood loss and unconsciousness. Using 999 correctly helps our paramedic crews to reach those patients most in need of medical attention.

Alternative healthcare options for less serious conditions include; visiting your local pharmacy, visiting a minor injuries unit or NHS walk-in centre, or calling NHS111. You can also find advice and information online at www.nhs.uk