There are few dignified ways to handle being stuck on the loo with no toilet paper in sight.

Text a flatmate? Reach for a towel? Use a sleeve? We’ve all been there – and it isn’t for us to judge how you chose to get out of the situation.

But one thing that is totally unacceptable is to call 999 for help.

While that might sound obvious, this is one of the many ridiculous calls received by North West Ambulance service (NWAS) this year.

Over one in three calls made to NWAS have been for non-emergency situations in 2019.

Out of the one million calls made to 999 in the region, 37% were for patients who could potentially have been treated by a GP, pharmacist or at home with a few days’ rest.

In other cases, swallowing your pride or using common sense was the simple solution to saving over-stretched ambulance staff some time.



NWAS say they have received calls relating to a stubbed toe, an adult with head lice and a patient with a blister, as well as several animal related calls, including a dog that had been attacked and a cat that had been run over.

They have warned people to think twice about what they phone 999 for, as calls to the operator continue to rise year on year.

Talking about receiving these calls, Graham Lawrenson, Emergency Medical Dispatcher at NWAS said: ‘I was on the phone to a woman who had hit a male whilst driving her car, leaving him unconscious. I was worried for both of them but kept calm, as I needed to give her instructions to help save his life. But I soon discovered that ‘he’ was in fact a rabbit.

‘The contrast between how this call started and how it ended shows that some people still don’t understand when to use the 999 emergency service. Unfortunately, we can’t send NHS ambulances to animals.

‘My plea to people is only to call the ambulance service when someone is seriously ill or injured and you think they could die, otherwise your call could be blocking the line for a real emergency.’

Examples of genuine emergencies include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, confused state, fits that aren’t stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, severe allergic reactions, burns and scalds, suspected stroke, suspected heart attack, fall from height, serious head injury, stabbing, shooting and serious road traffic incidents.



For medical help when it is not an emergency, go to or call NHS 111.

For needing help reaching the loo roll, or fixing a broken kettle, try watching this video, which explains exactly why you shouldn’t call someone whose guidance on the phone can often be the difference between life and death.

As Ged Blezard, Director of Operations at NWAS, explained: ‘We have created this video, which includes some of the most ridiculous calls made to our emergency number, to make people think about how these types of calls can affect the service, and the situations in which they should dial 999.

‘We understand that people panic or need help for situations that are concerning to them, but reporting a broken kettle, or out of reach toilet paper, which are both real calls featured in the video, can stop us from saving the life of a person in a real emergency.’