20th Mar, 2019

999 reports of broken Apple watch, injured duck and loud snoring

Felix Nobes 8th Aug, 2018 Updated: 8th Aug, 2018

CALLS about a broken Apple watch, an injured duck and loud snoring are just some of the reports 999 call handlers at West Midlands Police have dealt with.

The force has launched a campaign urging people to preserve the 999 line for real emergencies.

It comes just weeks after it received the highest daily total of 999 calls in its history.

Force members say they are answering around 50 calls a day – the highest demand some have experienced.

It says calls about a partner’s snoring, an injured duck and a teenager who had run out of call credit trying to contact his mum are distracting the force from genuine emergencies.

A total of 3,276 were fielded on July 7 which is up 40 per cent on the 24-hour average.

The force says it is continuing to battle against record high call numbers through August.

The summer reminder has seen it reach out to members of the public across social media with a plea not to tie-up call handlers with trivial enquiries – and the mantra “if it’s not 999…search WMP online”.

Lyndsey Swallow, head of Contact Handling, said: “The 999 service is precious: it should be reserved for emergency incidents, when people are in danger, or to report crimes in progress.

“We’re here to help and protect the public – but sometimes we can’t get to people as quickly as we’d like because lines are being clogged up with less serious issues or things that couldn’t possibly be considered a police matter.

“WMP Online now has a wealth of information and advice on a range of issues and should be a first port of call for people if their call isn’t urgent.”

Last weekend, West Midlands Police took a total of 5,056 emergency 999 calls, spiking at around 1.30am on Saturday morning when almost 50 were taken inside 15 minutes.

Despite the unprecedented demand the force says almost eight in every 10 emergency calls were still answered within 10 seconds.

Call handler Olivia, one of those taking part in the video campaign, recently marked one year with West Midlands Police.

She said: “It’s constant at the moment – the highest demand I’ve ever seen – and I’d say I’m answering up to 50 calls a day.

“It’s a pressurised job but really varied; you’re always on your toes as you never know who you’ll pick up the phone to next.

“I once spoke to a nine-year-old girl who called to say she was being abused by her stepdad.

“And another time I was on the phone to a man who’d suffered a cardiac arrest; I alerted ambulance colleagues and kept him talking but he died moments later.”

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