Pretoria - ER24 has asked the public to refrain from making bogus emergency calls that are costly, are a drain on staffing and resources and could cost lives.
It said emergency services received thousands of hoax calls each year from people, including adults, claiming they needed medical help.
ER24 released statistics on Thursday and said it had received more than 33 000 hoax calls last year.
The emergency services provider said prank calls could be dangerous to people who had a genuine emergency, as the calls could delay timely intervention.
Shakira Cassim, the company’s contact centre manager, said the calls ranged from reports of non-existent collisions to people being in “distress” in remote locations.
“Shockingly, adults contributed significantly to the number of hoax calls received,” she said.
The calls were sometimes so realistic that paramedics only realised they were a hoax once they were at the scene.
Cassim said people had to think about the consequences of their actions.
“The risk is so high. Someone having a bit of fun can impact on another person’s life. There are instances, especially in peak periods, where our vehicles are all over attending to real emergencies like drowning incidents and collisions with multiple patients.
“Attending to a hoax call means we have a vehicle unavailable to attend to someone really in need,” she said.
Contact centre co-ordinator Santi van Heerden said hoax calls also affected the company financially, and were a waste of resources.
Parents were advised to teach children about the danger of making hoax calls.