We’ve all heard stories about absurd calls to emergency lines, from people calling about a bat in the house to a missing newspaper delivery. We like to think that these people aren’t stupid so much as too frustrated to think clearly…though we may be wrong.
Of course, Japan isn’t free of these kinds of silly emergency calls, either. In fact, a recent article received a lot of attention online when it listed some of the simply absurd emergency calls that have been made in Kobe City. Check them out below…
Kobe City, Japan’s sixth largest city by population, isn’t exactly a quiet country village, but it’s still a bit of a surprise to learn that they are on track to have over 80,000 ambulance dispatches this year. They passed 53,000 cases earlier this month and, if they do hit the expected number, will pass the all-time high of 78,393 cases. That’s a lot of calls to 119, Japan’s fire fighter/ambulance emergency service. (110 is the number for the police.)
Of course, many of these cases are legitimate, but that doesn’t mean that absurd emergency calls aren’t annoying local emergency workers. One example cited by the Sankei article includes the story of a woman who called complaining that her “chest hurt.” But when rescue workers arrived on the scene, they discovered she was speaking in a metaphorical sense as she explained that she was just feeling lonely that night. There have also been multiple cases of people calling because they wanted “to go to the hospital, but” they had “been drinking.” We’re glad they didn’t try to drink and drive at least…
Other calls filed under the “what the hell are you calling 119 for?” heading include someone phoning because they “got a bad sunburn and [their] skin hurt.” Someone else apparently called because they got a mosquito bite.
It has become so bad, in fact, that the city fire department has officially asked people to “stop calling 119 for small things and to only use the ambulance services appropriately.”
According to the department, part of the general increase in the number of ambulance dispatches seems to the rising number of elderly people living alone. Obviously, not every absurd call is coming from an aged person, but with more people of advanced age living by themselves, there’s not much they can do but call 119 when they have a problem, however minor. In an attempt to improve the situation, the city has set up a “care line,” which partly involves cooperating neighbors going to help when possible.
Sadly, this situation has also had an impact on the efficiency of ambulances in Kobe. In 2008, it took rescue workers about five minutes and 40 seconds to reach their destination, on average. Last year that time was up to six minutes and 50 seconds. That’s a pretty big difference and, in the case of heart attacks, a minute can reduce the chances of resuscitation by as much as 10%.
Sources: Hachimakikou, Sankei, Kobe City
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