The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has expressed concern over the rising number of prank calls to the service.
In a review of its operations in 2021, the service said 80 per cent of all calls it received were hoaxes.
According to the service, such prank calls were affecting timely access to ambulance services, a critical medical emergency, and could put people’s lives in danger.
The Deputy Director of Operations of NAS, Mr Foster Ansong, who expressed the concern to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, therefore, appealed to the public to desist from calling the toll free line 112 if they did not require the services of the NAS.
He also said the prank calls could undermine quality medical emergency services in the country, as well as the delivery of NAS’s vision of striving to be a world-class emergency medical service (EMS) that provided high quality and the most cost-effective emergency health care.
“The prank calls are really affecting our services. Sometimes people call us, thinking they are making prank calls to the Fire Service, and when we pick the calls, we hear some say: ‘My hair is on fire; please come and extinguish it’, ‘The fight between my wife and me has put our house on fire’, ‘My dog is dying; we need an ambulance’,” Mr Ansong said.
He also observed that most of the calls were made by children, explaining that “the emergency call centres are only meant for emergency situations and when citizens are in distress”.
Disregard for sirens
Mr Ansong also mentioned the disregard for emergency sirens as a major challenge to effective service delivery by NAS.
While conceding that the road network and the traffic situation in most parts of the country made movement difficult for NAS, he said the situation was compounded when drivers became adamant to giving way to NAS.
He said due to the emergency nature of their services, it was important that ambulances were given way in traffic, whether they were carrying patients or not.
“What we forget is that the empty ambulance may be on its way to respond to an emergency call or save a life, which could be that of a family member or friend of any one of us. An ambulance should always be moving with speed to ensure timely response,” Mr Ansong added.