Save triple zero for emergencies: ambos

·2-min read

Stretched emergency services are urging NSW residents to dial triple zero only in genuine emergencies, as new figures show the line is being bombarded with thousands of non-urgent calls.

More than 1000 people rang for an ambulance for constipation in the 12 months to March 31, 2021, NSW Ambulance and NSW Police say.

Six hundred and sixty-two people called up about a toothache, 215 for earaches and 167 for boils, while 157 calls came from people struggling to sleep and 16 for hiccups.

All up, NSW Ambulance responded to more than 200,000 jobs where no patient was taken to hospital in that year. The reasons ranged from hoax calls to people refusing transport.

The calls are coming as emergency services have never been busier, authorities say.

NSW Police say they received almost 800,000 calls for help to triple zero in that same period, on top of more than 580,000 non-emergency reports through other routes.

About 40,000 of those 800,000 are transferred to a non-emergency line. Subsequent review finds that more than 150,000 are more suitable to a non-emergency line, police say.

People calling up over non-emergency issues take paramedics and call-takers away from the critical job of saving lives, says NSW Ambulance Assistant Commissioner Steven Norris.

"If you are having a medical emergency we will always respond to you but too often our paramedics are responding to calls that we simply don't need to attend," Mr Norris said in a statement.

"We want the public to think before calling us for trivial matters."

The release of the figures, follows the state's Health Services Union calling for an extra 1500 paramedics to be recruited amid a system-wide crisis and response times blowouts.

Secretary Gerard Hayes on Thursday cited instances when the service couldn't guarantee a response to an emergency within an acceptable timeframe.

At one point on Monday, there were only 14 ambulances available to cover 61 triple zero jobs in an area spanning from Avalon in Sydney's north to Bowral in the Southern Highlands.