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22 November 2016, 05:31
Scotland's ambulance staff have wasted more than a month on hoax calls in the last 3 years, according to a Heart investigation.
We can exclusively reveal the Scottish Ambulance Service received 2,364 malicious calls since 2013.
In that time, Paramedics wasted 870 hours on false reports, accounting for 36 days lost.
Emergency service chiefs warn lives could be at risk as staff are taken away from assisting in potentially life or death situations.
A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: ""Anyone who calls 999 without a genuine need is potentially putting lives at risk by tying up valuable resources that could be needed to respond to a life threatening call.
"When appropriate, malicious or nuisance callers are reported to the police, however in many cases the call is a result of a social issue rather than malice and the patient may still need assistance.
"In these cases the relevant agencies are advised so that appropriate care can be provided."
One staff member Heart spoke to claimed every frontline worker in the ambulance service has dealt with a hoax call at some time.
Paramedic Callum Johnston: "When you join the job you're looking to help people and offer the skills that you've go.
"You're not in a position to do that when you're tied up with spurious calls.
"It could be your relative or your friend that's in desperate and nobody is available to help, while we're tied up with a call that someone is making for a laugh."
Ambulance crews respond to around 750,000 emergency incidents per year across Scotland.