NeeNaw has already written about hoax calls, yesterday I had one that we knew was going to be a hoax but would have to be investigated anyway.
The call came down to our computer terminal as 'Child on phone claiming to be 52 year old male with difficulty in breathing, no answer on ringback, probably hoax, please investigate'.
While this seems pretty cut and dried it's probably for the best that we are sent to investigate, it only takes one misunderstanding and someone to die and the whole service would be dragged over the coals. I can just picture the headline 'Ambulance thought my dying husband was a hoax caller!'.
So we went to the callbox and sure enough there was a gang on perhaps eight young teenagers standing opposite the phonebox. One of them did that annoying thing where run into the middle of the road, stamp their feet then wave at you and shout that they have broken their leg.
We pulled up next to him, “Call an ambulance did you?”
The teenager faked ignorance.
“It's against the law to dial 999 for no reason”, I continued.
He just laughed.
So in an uncharacteristic fit of quick-thinking I pulled out my mobile phone and took a picture of him.
He looked shocked and ran off to his friends and muttered something quickly to them.
My crewmate completed the illusion by pretending to talk to Control on our radio.
The gang of kids disappeared.
The good thing is that (a) It's not against the law to take a picture of someone in the street (he has no expectation of privacy), (b) If he's done nothing wrong he's got nothing to worry about and (c) if it was him hoaxing us, then it might give him a sleepless night worrying what we'll do with the 'evidence'. Of course there is nothing that we can do because we can't prove that he was the one to make the hoax call, so the hope of a little worry on his part is the best we can hope for.
I'm sure some Social Worker* would be upset at my actions, but when we are overloaded with calls such idiocy could cost someone their life.
*Talking of Social Workers, a friend of mine went on a call last night where a Social Worker got involved – said Social Worker got out of his car, urinated in the gutter and then bullied an elderly but otherwise healthy patient into going to hospital. Words fail me.