Emergency service reminds: scrapes or dead pets don't warrant call

Reacting to recent public dissatisfaction that the State Emergency Medical Service (NMPD) demand payment over unwarranted calls, the service has published a list of situations deemed inappropriate to call for emergency and urges the public to first see their primary care provider with mild complaints.

Some of the reasons people have called NMPD:

  • A person has quit taking their prescription medicine. The prescription needs a refill, the person has not approached their doctor, wants NMPD to renew their prescription.
  • Complains of pain in the leg for half a year. Wants to be taken to a hospital so it is finally cured.
  • Stepped on a nail yesterday, hurts today. Wants to be taken to hospital since a taxi is expensive.
  • Vomiting. Was at a party yesterday, can't explain the nausea.
  • States that a woman has gone into labor. Upon arriving, husband and wife both intoxicated, both thought wife was pregnant.
  • Ongoing pain for a month since being discharged from hospital. No time to go to the GP on a weekday, out of meds, wants NMPD to prescribe more.
  • Wants some sleeping pills because alcohol has been used for a week. Can't sleep. Otherwise all is fine.
  • Drank five liters of beer today. Doctor has said to seek medical care if liver enlarges. Called NMPD because thought the liver had enlarged, wants it checked out.
  • Had a fall. One-centimeter bruise. No bandaging or plasters at home.
  • Discomfort in lower abdomen for three days, no time to go to a doctor.
  • 37.2-degree fever for two days, uncomfortable, no time to go to a doctor.
  • Was afraid that the pet cat had died.
  • No complaints, but husband says [the wife] can't sleep.
  • Had a fight over potency issues, husband has sworn at her and then pissed in the bed. Wife would not stand this, called NMPD.

The NMPD said that it is the duty of the service to ensure that there is always a team to send when time is of the essence - when limbs are torn off in an accident, where a child has been severely injured, when someone has undergone cardiac arrest or suffered a severe burn. 

“How humane would it be to have people wait in situations like this, just because all our medical teams have gone to someone who was able to go to the pharmacy himself, to a general practitioner, to a duty doctor, to an urgent care facility or solve their problem in other ways?” asks the NMPD.

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The Service said that out of a total of 900 calls executed daily, on average, only 10 have to be paid for by the caller.

“Why so few? Because we avoid giving them help so as not to jeopardize the operational situation, not to occupy the brigades in vain. Always trying to dissuade people from paid services, the dispatcher avoids sending a team every day on about 600 occasions but humanely provides advice on what to do and where to get help elsewhere.”

The NMPD stresses that emergency phone 113 should be called immediately if a person is unconscious, is not breathing or develops sudden breathing difficulties, has suffered severe injury or has severe, life-threatening bleeding, has a suspected infarction or stroke, or any other situation where a person's life is at risk and minutes are crucial to getting help.

In cases of minor injuries and common illnesses, it is recommended that you contact your GP first or call the general practitioner's 66016001 advisory telephone or contact the on-call doctor at an urgent care establishment.

Information provided by the Ministry of Health shows that in 2022 the NMPD received 3,697 calls in situations where assistance was not considered urgent, of which 44% was paid.

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