Hoaxes II

One of my regular readers is someone from an Ambulance Control, she left the following in my comments section about why we on the road tend not to see too many hoax calls.

We do get a fair number of hoax calls in control. Most of them can be spotted a mile off, however, and consist of someone under the age of 16 requesting police, fire and ambulance for some unfeasible event. They usually hang up when you read them back the address they are calling from, or, if they are in a call box (which they usually are) tell them to “look up at the 'security camera' in the box so I can see your face” or “the doors of the phone box will now lock automatically – the police are on their way to catch you for making NAUGHTY HOAX CALLS”. Obviously, you have to be 100% sure that it is a hoax before you do this, otherwise someone will die and then you will get the sack.

I also spend a fair deal of time when working on the dispatch desks calling back suspected hoaxes from call boxes until a member of the public answers and confirms there are no dying individuals lying around that we ought to be attending to.

One or two do slip through the net, though. There was an almighty ruckus when some really “funny” people decided to tell us that someone had fallen down the stairs and then given birth to her sixth baby on the spot. A whole fleet of ambulances and midwives turned up to find a bunch of sniggering teenagers on the doorstep and no sign of any woman or baby. They didn't even have the sense to give a false address. One of the midwives rang up and shouted at me for half an hour.

So, thanks to the folks up in Control around the country for dealing with the obvious hoax calls

I think this will make up for the moan I'm going to post about Control in a little while.

12 thoughts on “Hoaxes II”

  1. I work as a 999 operator for BT and I'm glad to hear most of the hoaxes get filtered out before they actually warrant an ambulance being sent out. We get loads of kids calling up to mess around and I try to get rid of as many as possible without having to connect them to anyone. As soon as they make a request I obviously have to connect them to whoever they ask for and it really irritates me when I know it's a hoax.Usually kids will request something and then hang up right away, but some of them have so much cheek. Like last night, I had a call from a young girl asking for the US army service. I tried all my mandatory phrases on her, told her to hang up, tried the 'there's a camera in that phone box' and 'we know you're standing on XXX Road' and 'I'm connecting this call to the police if you stay on line' while she kept insisting she required the US army. Then she decided she needed the fire brigade. Very reluctantly, I connected her, and listened as she told the fire brigade that there was a school on fire. Luckily the fire didn't take long to work out it was a hoax, but I still wished I hadn't had to connect it.

  2. Hello,If any of you know or work with Dave Babanou in Control at the LAS at waterloo, please tell the big prat his former best friend from New York has lost his contact details and that I am not mad at him anymore and to email me. I am an EMT from New York. wldchild12270@yahoo.com

    Thank you very much


  3. Never heard of him… do you know which watch and sector he's on and I can point him in the direction of this?

  4. In California, our biggest problem when I was a dispatcher, was the doctors who tried to call us directly. No, Really, the patient is fine, no I haven't seen them, but their family says the chest pain shortness of breath grand mal seizures uncontrolled bleeding loss of consciousness…. is absolutely normal for them and you don't need the lights and sirens. (pick any of the complaints above, mix and match they sure did)Then the doctors started to think they got smart…. Ummmm, I need an ambulance for an elderly patient with the flu…. ummmm, yeah aches pains, ummmm….coughing, …. just not able to get out of bed, they need to be checked out you know… nothing serious, saw them recently…. just an ambulance non emergency.


    Middleaged male unconscious after experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath, doctor hasn't actually seen the pt.

    The doctors were too stupid to understand that we acually called these people on another line and figured out the truth.

  5. It's the same over here – we have GP's telling us that critically ill patients aren't that ill (my favourite being those who sit people who are having heart attacks outside to have a cigarette) – and on the other hand we have those who ask for an emergency ambulance for someone with a runny nose…I've met a couple of good GP's and they are a rarity…

  6. I just knew that he was working at the 999 desk in control at waterloo station. his shifts are different every few weeks like ours here in the states. if you find him just pass on my emailkind regards


  7. Hi,thanks, just know he was at waterloo. working different shifts, taking 999 calls. If you find him great if not cheers, for trying. He's a problem child anyhow lol!

    Kind regards


  8. With regards to anon calls….just a word of warning….no a short story to make you think!Some of you may remember the Clapham Rail Crash December 1988 (anyone in the UK will anyway), the crash was witnessed by a young teenager who ran to the nearest public telephone to make the 999 call. When he was passed through to the LAS call taker he was informed that there was a very small CCTV spy camera installed in the call box and the clicking he could hear was the call taker taking photographs of him making this call (the clicking was actually the calltaker tapping his/her pen on the desk). The distraught teenager was desperately trying to relay important information regarding this rail crash. The call takers tone of voice and unmistakable disbelief was nevertheless overpowering this poor chap.

    Needless to say, shortly after (about one minute) the “SCREENS LIT UP WITH CALLS” some of which were from casualties trapped within the wreckage. 35 people died in this tragedy.

    I agree that there are a huge amount of hoax calls and these are being weeded out as best as possible. Shouldn't the call takers in whatever service be a little more circumspect in thier INITIAL questioning?

    This is true…..the tapes of the calls were subject to the subsequent enquiry. Unfortunately the source cannot be named, suffice to say that it is an ex LAS staff member.

  9. I'd not heard that story, and indeed it can be hard to talk to people over the phone – I guess that this is why I always get to every call as quickly as I can, if it's a load of crap then I can relax, but if it is something serious I'd look like a complete twit if I saunter in with my hands in my pocket.I couldn't be a calltaker up in Control – I don't know how they do it to be honest, at least I get to see the patient while they have to make decisions based on what people tell them.

    Like everything in this job, if you follow the policy that people have set down you'll not get into trouble. It's just that sometimes the policy doesn't seem to make complete sense when it meets the real world.

    I did hear that the Potters Bar train crash was initially phoned in by a child as someone having chest pain. (Which was true, the person they saw did indeed have pain in their chest, pain caused by the crash).

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