HOSPITAL: Gladstone Hospital Emergency Department. Photo Brenda Strong/The Observer GLA110111HOSP2
HOSPITAL: Gladstone Hospital Emergency Department. Photo Brenda Strong/The Observer GLA110111HOSP2 Brenda Strong

Gladstone paramedics reveal most ridiculous 000 calls

WHAT would you do if you got an eyelash in your eye?

Call an ambulance?

Some people do.

Queensland Ambulance Services Rockhampton operation centre manager Mindy Thomas said they received "nuisance calls" every day.

"Some days we have a run of life threatening cases ... we hang up from a CPR call and pick up the next call of a blocked nose," Ms Thomas said.

"Little things like common colds and blocked noses can be dealt with by a local GP."

Toothaches, splinters in fingers, blisters from walking all day, eyelashes in the eye and prescriptions that needed to be filled are some of the calls QAS receive in central Queensland.

"We get calls about anything and everything," Ms Thomas said.

"A 22-year-old lady had the eyelash in her eye.

"She had it in her eye for three days and rang for an ambulance because she couldn't get it out."

Ms Thomas said people had to understand what ambulances were there for and non life threatening calls were frustrating.

"(People) mistake urgency with emergency," she said. "If it's urgent for you, it may not be an emergency for us.

"When people start to panic, the common sense process is not always there."

Receiving on average 155 triple zero calls every day, Ms Thomas said about 50% were life threatening emergencies.

"We cover 618,000 square metres from Agnes Water to Bowen and out west to the border," she said.

"36% of calls in Queensland fall into our area."

Ms Thomas said situations that could be dealt with by a local GP or pharmacist were ones that did not need an ambulance.

"If we turn up to the hospital with someone on a stretcher with a splinter in their finger and someone is in emergency with chest pain, then that takes priority," she said.

"We have a medical priority dispatch system so cases including chest pain, breathing difficulties or uncontrolled bleeding get the highest response because they are life threatening."

'Nuisance' phone calls happen daily and Ms Thomas said they were becoming more frequent.

"In the past people would pull out a splinter themselves ... strap tape on and off they went," she said.

"Now we do second guess ourselves."

Ms Thomas said people often turned to 'Dr Google' which often made situations worse.

"(Patients) say they Googled it and what could have been an un-serious haemorrhage becomes a serious haemorrhage," she said.

Although about 50% of calls aren't deemed life threatening, Ms Thomas said people concerned about a medical issue could call 13HEALTH and speak to a doctor who could then determine if an ambulance was needed.

"I'm not saying don't call triple zero ... if it is severely life threatening do not hesitate to call," she said.

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