Queensland Police launch campaign to end non-emergency calls. Picture: Gordon McComiskie
Queensland Police launch campaign to end non-emergency calls. Picture: Gordon McComiskie

Stunning misuse of triple-0 revealed

QUEENSLAND Police has released some of the stunning examples of calls to triple-0 as it is revealed 90 per cent of calls aren't for real emergencies.

Calling triple-0 to report the person you see breaking into your car? Fair enough.

Giving the emergency line a ring to ask them what time the next episode of Blue Heelers is on - now that's a little harder to understand.

In 2017, Queenslanders called triple-0 and asked for police a whopping 612,250 times - 90 per cent of which weren't for genuine emergencies.

Thanks to that statistic, Police and Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan and Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart launched a campaign to encourage the public to have a quick think before calling triple-0.

The 'Ring True' social media campaign is urging people to consider the other options available to them when reporting a crime - like PoliceLink or online forms on the QPS website.

"The influx of non-emergency calls ties up our police operators and we need to allow for genuine emergencies to ring true," Commissioner Stewart said.

"Noise complaints and break-ins where offenders are no longer present are common non-urgent triple-0 calls. While these are of great concern to police, they are not a matter for triple-0.

"If a crime's happening now, call triple-0. If not, think PoliceLink," he added.

QPS also released some of the stunning examples emergency operators deal with every day - explaining to people that police aren't necessary for pizza orders, taxi requests and guessing games.

When a man was told he'd phoned through to the emergency line, he asked the operator a ridiculous question.

"Well, how's it going police headquarters, I just wanted to know, what time does Blue Heelers start?"

Another woman asked an emergency operator to sort her a ride home.

"Sorry, I'm just having difficulty with this payphone. I'm just trying to order a cab, please."

Operators also dealt with 6000 nuisance calls, including a person trying to order a pizza and another asking "What day is it? ... I've just woken up".

One woman, who was riding on a train when she dialled triple-0, reported someone playing music too loudly near her.

"Well that's not an emergency for police to attend to," the operator bluntly replied.

Police are encouraging people who want to complain about noise, report car crashes where there were no injuries or report a break in where no offender is present to call PoliceLink on 131 444.

Close to 30,000 calls were also "no voice" calls meaning there was no response on the other end of the line.

Police also wants to make sure Queenslanders understand that knowing the location of the crime is the most important part of the call.

"Getting the correct information across clearly and concisely could make the difference between life and death.

"Stay on the line, stay calm, speak clearly and answer the operator's questions.

"Do not hang up until the operator says it's OK to do so," Commissioner Stewart said.

But Queensland isn't the only state guilty of misusing triple-0.

Last year, Ambulance Tasmania released a report exposing the gross misuse of the triple-0 line.

The review, released in an effort to fix Tasmania having the slowest emergency response rate in the country, exposed the state's worst examples.

At the time, Tasmania's Health Minister Michael Ferguson listed some of the worst.

"We had a person call 000 because their dog was sick, and they wanted an ambulance to come and assess it," Mr Ferguson said.

"One patient on Bruny Island realised they'd run out of medication on Christmas Eve, and the patient requested from the island that ambulance paramedics visit the pharmacy and collect their medications and put the ambulance on the ferry to deliver them.

"A person in Scottsdale called 000 wanting an ambulance because they had a blocked nose and a headache due to a cold."

Ambulance Tasmania had also attended to someone "suffering a toothache", another person who "had an itchy eye", a Hobart man who thought he'd broken his ankle but had been walking on it for two days and only had a small bruise and even a person who "had stubbed their toe and wanted an ambulance so they could go to hospital for an X-Ray".

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