News : South Australian Ambulance Service Data Reveals Prank or Hoax Triiple-zero Calls
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, March 7, 2016 -- A man who said his dog had eaten chocolate, a girl who claimed she had been stabbed and a male who deliberately drank an entire tin of coffee in one day are among "idiots" who have made needless, time-wasting calls to South Australia’s triple-zero operators.
Data obtained by The Advertiser from the South Australian Ambulance Service has revealed call centre operators receive illegal hoax calls every week. Examples of time-wasting calls to SAAS in a two-week period this year include:
An adult male who deliberately drunk an entire tin of coffee because he saw it done on a television show. An ambulance was sent.
A young girl calling on several occasions, falsely claiming she’d been stabbed.
A person calling 26 times in 24 hours reporting an assault. Crews attended and no injuries were found.
A man saying his dog had eaten chocolate. He was given a vet’s phone number.
SA Ambulance Service chief operating officer Steve Cameron said non-genuine triple zero calls took time and energy away from life and death emergencies.
He said the service did not collate total hoax or false call numbers but said mental health was a genuine reason behind many calls, which were taken seriously.
"We work closely with mental health professionals and SA Police to identify frequent triple zero callers and put care plans in place in order to best response to patients without sending ambulances unnecessarily," he said.
In 2014-15, a total of 184,727 triple zero calls were made in SA, up from 181,138 the previous year. There are currently 54 call takers employed at the SAAS Emergency Operations Centre, up from 50 in 2014-15 and 46 in 2013-14.
Ambulance Employees Association SA president Rob Leaney urged the State Government to further boost operator numbers because the number of triple zero calls continued to increase annually but staff numbers remain relatively stable.
Mr Leaney said operators were required to work through a "very precise range of questions" — even for hoax calls.
"It’s quite a hectic working environment and then these prank calls come in — they can’t know whether they’re false or malicious," he said.
AEA SA secretary Phil Palmer said hoax and prank callers were "idiots".
"It’s not funny — it’s dangerous and could put somebody’s life at risk," he said.
Health Minister Jack Snelling said prank calling triple zero was a "stupid thing to do".
"(It’s) really frustrating for both the dispatch teams and our paramedics who are there to help save lives," he said.
"This idiocy gets in the way of those who are ringing through with a legitimate emergency and it puts unnecessary pressure on the system."
Vexatious calls to emergency numbers can be punished by jail terms of up to three years under federal law.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, March 9, 2016