More than half of the calls made to Irish emergency services last year were not related to emergencies, show figured from the Department of Communications.
The Irish Times reports that a total of 1.7 million calls were made to the emergency service phone-line in 2016, with less than half needing to be directed to fire, ambulance, Coast Guard, or mountain rescue services.
Figures show that 772,856 genuine calls were made, with other calls including 635,537 silent calls, 149,642 calls with noisy lines, and 31,689 calls recorded as “children playing”.
169,077 calls were also logged as misdials, requests for non-emergency services, and abusive callers.
Michael Dixon, national chairman of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (Nasra), told the Irish Times that the organisation was “concerned, but not surprised” at the large number of hoax and non-emergency calls.
“The public needs to be aware of the consequences for emergency services responding to hoax call-outs.
“It diverts services away from genuine emergencies and can even put crews in danger if services are dispatched in response to hoax calls.
“There needs to be more serious sanctions on anyone abusing the emergency call-out numbers and initiators of hoax and nuisance calls, and their parents and guardians where children are involved,” he added.
The number of prank calls or those logged as children playing has dropped from 85,000 in 2011 to just over 31,000 last year.