THE ambulance service has said a person dialled 999 because they couldn’t sleep and another because a pigeon had injured its wing.

More than 450,000 calls were made to the Welsh Ambulance Service in the last year and almost a quarter were non-essential.

The service has urged people only to call 999 in a serious or life-threatening emergency as it enters its busiest period over the winter months.

Other calls ranging from the unnecessary to the ridiculous also included someone with onion juice in their eye, a person suffering with toothache and someone who had trapped their finger in a door.

“Our ambulance service exists to help people who are seriously ill or injured, or where there is an immediate threat to their life," said chief executive Jason Killens.

“That’s people who’ve stopped breathing, people with chest pain or breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, choking, severe allergic reactions, catastrophic bleeding or someone who is having a stroke.

“Non-essential calls represent nearly a quarter of our 999 calls, and time spent dealing with these could be time spent helping someone in a life or death situation.”

More suitable alternatives to the 999 emergency line include the NHS 111 Wales, the pharmacist, dentist, optician, GP and minor injuries unit.

Welsh Ambulance Service director of operations Lee Brooks said: “Winter is traditionally our most challenging period, and this year we also have a global pandemic to contend with.

“It’s easy for us to mock the people who call 999 foolishly, but actually, these people do have a legitimate clinical need – they just don’t know where to turn for it.

“We’re asking the public to educate themselves on the NHS services available in their area, of which there are many.

“The NHS 111 Wales website is a good place to start for advice and information, but think about your local pharmacist, dentist and optician, as well as your GP and minor injuries unit.

“Also ensure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet for things which can be treated at home, like coughs and colds, sore throats and grazed knees.

“Every single one of us has a responsibility to use NHS services wisely and protect them for those who need them most – one day that could be your child, parent, partner or even you.

“Help us help you this winter, and think twice before you call 999.”