Be afraid. Be very afraid if you need the emergency services. New government guidelines to radically improve slow emergency service response times
To cope with the increased demand for emergency services amid unprecedented cuts, the government is instituting new guidelines for call handlers to prioritise the calls based on the amount of terror or panic in the caller’s voice.
The lowest priority is mild annoyance where the caller is annoyed that the emergency has disturbed their cup of tea, an online chat with a friend, or occurred in the middle of EastEnders. This would typically be a child swallowing a small toy, a chip pan fire or their partner falling down clutching their chest and complaining they can’t breathe. An emergency vehicle will be despatched within 24-48 hours.
A second stage emergency is classified by the caller being rather flustered and clearly unaware of what to do. They have put down their cup of tea, kept their friend on the other line and are watching EastEnders with one eye. Such situations would typically involve a child swallowing a bottle of cleaning fluid, a burglar with a sawn-off shotgun entering the house, or their partner cutting off a hand or foot with a chainsaw or hedge trimmer. An emergency vehicle will be despatched as soon as humanly possible.
A third stage emergency is indicated by panic in the caller’s voice. They have knocked over their cup of tea, totally forgotten who they were talking to and can’t remember what happened in the last episode of EastEnders. Such emergencies will typically be caused by a child lying in a pool of blood, a gas explosion that has blown a hole through the kitchen floor, or finding their partner and their lover asphyxiated in some sort of erotic bondage game. As any victims of the emergency are likely to be dead, there is no real emergency and a vehicle will be despatched after the crew have had a cuppa.
The highest state of emergency is when the caller is so fraught with fear that they can’t give their name, the address of the property or the nature of the emergency. The call handler logs a response time of 3 minutes and, as they’ve no idea where the emergency is, hangs up.
A government spokesperson said: “The government is quite sure the new priority system will radically improve the emergency services target response times, and we are pumping an awful lot of money into them.” They added: “No, sorry, I can’t comment on the state of the NHS.”