In the last year, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) received more than one million 999 calls, but shockingly over a third of these were not for emergency situations.

Thirty-seven per cent of 999

calls were for patients who could

potentially have been treated at an urgent care centre or by a GP, pharmacist or at home with a few days’ rest.

This year alone the ambulance

service has received calls relating

to a stubbed toe, an adult with head lice and a patient with a blister, as well as several animal related calls, including a dog that had been attacked and a cat that had been run over.

Talking about receiving these calls, Graham Lawrenson, Emergency Medical Dispatcher said:

“I was on the phone to a woman who had hit a male whilst driving her car, leaving him unconscious. I was worried for both of them but kept calm, as I needed to give her instructions to help save his life. But I soon discovered that ‘he’ was in fact a rabbit.

“The contrast between how this call started and how it ended shows that some people still don’t understand when to use the 999 emergency service.

“Unfortunately, we can’t send NHS ambulances to animals.

“My plea to people is only to call the ambulance service when someone is seriously ill or injured and you think they could die, otherwise your call could be blocking the line for a real emergency.”

Examples of genuine emergencies include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, confused state, fits that aren’t stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, severe allergic reactions, burns and scalds, suspected stroke, suspected heart attack, fall from height, serious head injury, stabbing, shooting and serious road traffic incidents.

For medical help when it is not an emergency, go to or call NHS 111.