Education about calling 999 is vital for children and young people

Education about calling 999 is vital for children and young people

A youth group in Hartlepool has helped the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) develop a new set of schools resources to educate children and young people on what to expect when they call 999 or 111 and how to use the emergency service responsibly.

The Hartlepool Junior Inspectors have worked with NEAS over several months, getting to experience the operational centre, which is where all of the 999 and 111 calls are made, as well as talking to a paramedic and looking inside some of the vehicles.

Together, they identified a need to educate other children and young people about the impact of making hoax calls to emergency services, when to call for emergency help and what to expect when you do.  They then made recommendations to the NEAS board.

Engagement manager at North East Ambulance Service, Mark Johns explains, “The types of emergency calls we receive are sometimes from children and young people who may need help for their friend or relative during an emergency. They might be the only source of help for that patient at that time.  Our new schools resource online resources for teachers and community group leaders will enable them to give young people the confidence and help them to understand when to call our service and what to expect.”

Now online, the service has developed a game for groups to play in which they will run through various scenarios in which call handlers and dispatchers will be faced with on a day to day basis and give them the opportunity to choose what type of response they might receive from the ambulance service. 

There is also a section on hoax calling that explains the consequences of prank calling and the repercussions that people can face if they ring 999 with a fake emergency. There are two videos about the responsibility of calling 999 that teachers can use to educate students about the consequences of their actions.

The Learning Zone can be viewed here

Mr Johns continues, “In the last year we have received over 900 hoax calls that could have caused delays to frontline staff in reaching patients that are in a serious emergency. It is a criminal offence for anyone to prank call emergency services and based on the feedback from the young people we did our own research on the issue locally and joined forces with other emergency care colleagues to produce something that teachers and youth group leaders can use.”

Project leader of the Hartlepool Junior Inspectors group, Rebecca Ferguson, from West View Project, added, “This project has been hugely valuable. It has helped to educate the youngsters involved in how to use the ambulance and other emergency services, which is something that they will be able to carry with them for life.  And it has also proved to then that their voice is important. 

"Because of them, there is now more information available for other young people, which they have helped to tailor.  Seeing that come to life at the end of this project has helped to remind them that their contribution and their views really matter and that they can make a difference. 

"I’d like to thank all of the young people for their enthusiasm and on their behalf, I’d like to thank NEAS all the services that got involved for really listening and acting upon what they heard.”

Steve Johnson, area manager for protection and prevention at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We applaud the hugely positive action taken by these young people. They are helping us to reinforce the message that hoax calls can cost lives. They divert our resources away from real emergencies where you, your family or friends may be in severe danger. We need to get there as quick as possible to prevent a tragedy. Making a hoax call is totally irresponsible.”

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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