An ambulance in Japan Photo: WIKIPEDIA
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20% of emergency calls in 2018 did not require ambulance response: NPA

32 Comments

Last year, police stations nationwide received around 8,035,000 emergency calls, of which 20% did not require an urgent ambulance response, according to the National Police Agency (NPA).

The NPA reported the number of emergency phone calls received at police stations from January to November 2018 amounted to 8,359,712, which is an increase of approximately 150,000 from 2017 and exceeded the highest number of calls in 2013.

Regarding the contents of these calls, traffic-related accidents were the most frequent calls, accounting for 2,816,274 cases. On the other hand, calls that did not require any emergency response accounted for 1,603,721 cases, or about 20% of the total.

Examples of non-emergency cases were individuals who called 119 to inquire the phone number of a store, one pleading for officers to do something about the cockroach in [their] home, and someone who was seeking help to retrieve lost data from a cell phone that submerged in water, the NPA said in a report.

For non-emergency calls, the NPA is urging people to dial the national non-emergency help hotline #9110.

© Japan Today

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32 Comments
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Well if the NPA would get with the Diet, seeing as how they are a "national" agency and create a law that makes nuisance calls a fine-able offense and more importantly ENFORCE it, they just might see a drop.

They shouldn't complain about a system they created!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think that's a gross underestimate; its probably more like 40% since many people here think its a taxi service...

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

This is actually a strange story. Why? Every time I went to the Emergency room at different hospitals near my home, (badly sprained ankle, symptoms of a stroke, and so on) the first 10-15 minutes of my visit was them trying to determine why I didn't call an ambulance. The next 10-15 was them telling me they didn't have that particular doctor on call at that time and I should have called an ambulance. On top of that, the time I did call an ambulance due to a ruptured disc and couldn't walk or stand at all, I spent over an hour in the ambulance while they searched for a hospital that "had a bed available". So, step one is to make the Emergency Rooms actual Emergency rooms!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

OK, am I missing something here?

Police = 110

Fire, Ambulance = 119

So, if someone calls the police for an emergency, they would dial 110.

If someone calls for a medical emergency, they would normally dial 119.

At least, that is what we would do.

So, if we are talking about phone calls to the police, that would be 110. Is this article accurate when it says that 1,603,721 calls did not require urgent AMBULANCE response??

Or was it just that these 110 calls did not require an urgent response from police??

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why? Every time I went to the Emergency room at different hospitals near my home, (badly sprained ankle, symptoms of a stroke, and so on) the first 10-15 minutes of my visit was them trying to determine why I didn't call an ambulance. 

Part of the problem IS the system itself. Not all hospitals have emergency services. At the local university hospital here, if you keel over at the entrance, they WILL call an ambulance to take you to an "emergency" hospital and will not see attend to you, unless you have an appointment.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Part of the problem IS the system itself. Not all hospitals have emergency services. At the local university hospital here, if you keel over at the entrance, they WILL call an ambulance to take you to an "emergency" hospital and will not see attend to you, unless you have an appointment.

True. And even "emergency" hospitals are usually not really emergency hospitals, particularly if it is after-hours, on the weekend or a holiday.

And then there are the ambulance services themselves. Nothing more than a glorified transport vehicle and they certainly don't operate with much of a sense of urgency.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Restructuring the whole system would sort out many of these issues but that would be far to logical and simple, this is Japan where everything must be convoluted.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Restructuring the whole system would sort out many of these issues but that would be far to logical and simple

Restructuring the whole system would be too simple? Um...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That statistic just by itself, I don’t find too alarming. What would hurt is if this caused a lot of other legitimate people not to have got an ambulance due to this. Need more data. (Also when a silly person calls 119 to enquire a number of a store, they aren’t actually asking for an ambulance, are they?) The title is therefore, misleading.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Without doubt people in Japan call an ambulance when it's really not medically necessary. Minor injuries on non-life threatening situations that can easily be handled by car, taxi, or even train. If these people got a bill fpr using an ambulance like people get in the United States In am sure they would think twice. Right now they aren't thinking at all. But the examples given in the article are ridiculous, they aren't even for medical treatment or services. A fine is the only way to deal with that kind of stupidity. Ambulances need to be available 24/7 for real emergencies and life threatening situations.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

And considering how slow these "emergency" vehicles move in Japan, I'll bet 20% of the really ill patients never make it to the Hospital alive.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Just charge the recipient of the ambulance if the problem is not deemed to be an emergency - that would stop the problem.....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"one pleading for officers to do something about the cockroach in [their] home"

Well if that isn't an emergency I don't know what is! Those things are revolting, especially the ones that fly.

"At the local university hospital here, if you keel over at the entrance, they WILL call an ambulance to take you to an "emergency" hospital and will not see attend to you, unless you have an appointment."

Sounds about right. They don't think outside the box.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They need to enact laws that will fine people for such calls, since it takes away from the real possibility that someone in actual danger may worsen or die due to these people wanting phone numbers or what have you, and those people need to pay for the cost of the ambulance and paramedics, as well as any life lost they may cause as a result. I'm not talking about calls where people believe they are having a heart attack and instead it's a panic attack, but the kind of calls mentioned in the article where they wanted phone numbers and the lot.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Years ago my very young daughter had an undetected congenital defect with the symptom of sudden, very high fevers so my wife and I became quite familiar with late night/early morning visits to the emergency room. Often the physicians were very brusque and dismissed my daughter's condition as trivial and my wife and I as wasting their time. Yet it was these unexplained fevers that eventually lead to a diagnosis and surgery to correct the problem. We never thought to call an ambulance but our neighbors certainly did - almost every week someone in our building or neighborhood called one to take them to a local hospital and by the looks of things, they could have gotten in their cars and gone just like we did.

A few year after the surgery my daughter had a heavy metal exterior door slam on her finger. We drove her to the nearest clinic that was open. Two physicians unwrapped her bandaged finger and said there was nothing they could do and told us to drive to the emergency room. It wasn't just that they showed no compassion or warmth towards a little girl, but that they left her finger unbandaged and exposed. I actually had to ask them to bandage it before we made it to the emergency room and they seem startled by my request.

Well, over all, I was satisfied with Japanese healthcare. At times it seemed quite bare-boned and even threadbare but over all it provides people with the care they need at a reasonable price. But sometimes, the patient really has to step up and ask and ask and ask before they get what they need ... but that is another story.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“ The next 10-15 was them telling me they didn't have that particular doctor on call at that time and I should have called an ambulance.”

It will depend on where you live, but in this city the emergency rooms are on duty on a rotating system. The details are published every day in the local newspaper and on the city’s homepage and there is also a special phone number to call to find out where to go. If you call an ambulance you don’t need to do that yourself as they will know or find out where to go.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And then there are the ambulance services themselves. Nothing more than a glorified transport vehicle and they certainly don't operate with much of a sense of urgency.

There are EMT's that accompany the ambulances, but other than being able to go through red lights ambulances are, by law, not allowed to go over the speed limit, unlike cops.

I used to drive one here, and believe it or not, I can not count how many times people would not give the right of way to an ambulance, lights flashing and siren wailing, and being "requested" to move over the loud speaker as well.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Your phone number is logged when you call emergency services. My kids did it by mistake when they were about three, and we got an immediate call from the local EMTs, who were not pleased. Substantial fines for frivolous calls and non-essential ambulance call outs would cut their numbers immediately. These services are for people whose lives are at risk, not someone who can't be bothered to use a phonebook or kill an insect.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just another anecdote, but my son broke his leg skiing with his ski team. The patrol put him in a splint, the coach called my wife, and he was carried to her car and driven to a clinic where he was x-rayed and the fracture was detected.

The same season, one of the older girls in the same team collided with another girl during a school ski lesson, got a gash in her arm, and the school called an ambulance. That was for a girl who had no problems walking.

My wife's cousin called an ambulance once when her daughter's shoulder joint popped out. Little kids are really flexible, and it popped back in by itself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kohakuebisu,

Interesting pair of anecdotes. I am wondering was the difference in response because the girl was bleeding and your son was not? I’m glad at least the patrol had a splint for your boy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Common problem around the world.  People using ambulance and and A&E for non critical health concerns.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I actually had to ask them to bandage it before we made it to the emergency room and they seem startled by my request.

Japanese doctors are generally surprised when patients make requests of them or question their word, instead of just passively accepting whatever sage advice the brilliant, highly-educated, and divine doctors decide to graciously gift to the common patients.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Your phone number is logged when you call emergency services.

Are you in Japan?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese doctors are generally surprised when patients make requests of them or question their word, instead of just passively accepting whatever sage advice the brilliant, highly-educated, and divine doctors decide to graciously gift to the common patients.

This is a fallacy today! There WAS a time this was more the rule than the exception but it has changed dramatically over the past 20 years or so.

Older doctors, maybe, younger no.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agree with Yubaru - at least the doctors I use for a likely terminal disease welcome the prior research I have done and thus intelligent questions asked, and the understanding that I have when they review the results of tests and treatment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The whaling of the ambulance siren; Japan's national anthem. I would be happy with less noise pollution if they cut down there cases by 20%.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

 If these people got a bill fpr using an ambulance like people get in the United States In am sure they would think twice

I would rather someone who didn't need an ambulance rang rather than someone who did need one didn't because they were worried about the cost.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This means that 80% of all ambulance calls are legitimate. That is what is most important.

How do you judge illegitimate ambulance calls? We are given only two weird examples, which is lousy journalistic writing, which is all too common in Japan.

It is very likely that what seemed like emergencies turned out to be non-emergencies.

I had to call an ambulance when I was in dire pain. I saw a doctor immediately and was put in emergency. Another time I developed symptoms that my wife feared was a stroke. We got an ambulance and I was seen immediately. It was something that needed a doctor’s attention, but not a stroke. Technically, I did not need an ambulance. Does that make me one of the 20%? I do not think so.

This is a facile article because it does not discuss mistaken self-diagnosis. To say, “Did not require emergency response” is not enough.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So...the police own the hospitals and/or ambulances? Thought ambulances were run by a national medical agency, not the police. Do the police control the fire depts and utilities too?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

juminRheeToday  09:09 pm JST

“So...the police own the hospitals and/or ambulances? Thought ambulances were run by a national medical agency, not the police. Do the police control the fire depts and utilities too?”

In this city ambulances are run by the fire department. The police don’t run any of them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’m curious also about what their criteria is for non emergency calls. Is it just completely ridiculous calls about wrong food orders or cockroaches, or is it also including people who basically weren’t DYING. And if so what’s their standard for emergency or not, is it just people who were dying, or are other conditions included? Which conditions or injuries?

My husband called an ambulance last year for me after I suddenly felt very ill and fainted in a shop, hitting my face/chest on some shelving on my way down. Before the ambulance arrived I was awake although a bit disoriented, confused and tired. I felt rather silly getting into the gurney and ambulance when I could walk and started to feel better, they ran blood tests did a CT scan of my head, and a chest x Ray (because my chest hurt extremely bad, but it was just bruised from where I hit it.)

anyway, no reason for my fainting was found, and I declined to stay overnight for the recommended observation. I would personally categorize my situation as non emergency since I wasn’t dying or experiencing a serious condition, but it also wasn’t a completely stupid call like the examples in the story. I wish they’d separate it into “non emergency medical calls” and... whatever you’d call the examples in the article “phony calls” or whatever.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ah_soToday  04:58 pm JST

 If these people got a bill fpr using an ambulance like people get in the United States In am sure they would think twice

I would rather someone who didn't need an ambulance rang rather than someone who did need one didn't because they were worried about the cost.

People in the U.S. who really need an ambulance call for one without consideration of cost. That is what normally happens in a life or death situation anywhere in any country.

When an ambulance is called for non-emergency reasons, it prevents it from being available for real emergencies. Such behavior may indirectly cause the death of someone who needs immediate help.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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