Ambulance service often misused as taxis

COFFS Coast ambulances are used as taxis far more often than they respond to actual emergencies, new figures have revealed.

Ambulance NSW this week launched its Is Your Urgency an Emergency? campaign, asking 000 callers to assess whether or not their situation requires urgent care.

Just 10% of calls to NSW Ambulance are life-threatening cases, while 40% of calls are low priority or non-urgent and should be referred to health centres or local doctors.

Ambulance NSW zone manager for the mid north coast, Superintendent Evan Clark, said his crews were often left frustrated after rushing to a scene to find people had exaggerated their case.

"We often receive calls for a minor cut or wound, or if people have been given medication and it hasn't worked instantly," he said

"A lot of people call because they're intoxicated - but at the end of the day they need to be able to manage that themselves."

Supt Clark said each time Coffs Harbour ambulances responded to non-emergency situations it had a negative impact for patients requiring emergency care.

"Ambulance crews are obliged to take a patient to hospital if they request transport," he said.

"Because we're in a regional area, we're losing ambulance resources out of communities for very minor ailments."

He urged residents to make sure their situations were urgent before phoning 000.

"Think twice before you call. Is it an emergency or could you call a GP or medical centre first?"