Ambulance chiefs have launched a new online game to help explain the inner workings of the 999 service.
At a time when emergency call-outs have reached a record high in Lancashire, paramedic bosses have turned to the web to show the public what can happen when they make a call for help.
The game, which cost £13,000 to create and allows players to dream up their own emergency situation – from shark attacks to eating too much junk food – is designed to illustrate the range of responses they can expect when they call for an ambulance.
“It is just a way of targeting younger audiences and showing them what sort of things could happen if they ring 999,” said a North West Ambulance Service spokesman. “It doesn’t always result in a response from an emergency ambulance or a trip to the emergency department.
“The cost of the game hasn’t come out of our budget, it is from a special Department of Health fund for projects which are innovative. And it hasn’t come about just because of the spike in call-outs this summer. Work started on this last year.”
The service has come under fire in recent months in the North West for failing to respond to incidents because crews were busy on more serious call-outs.
Two of the most controversial came in Preston, where a car accident victim and two people injured in a house fire had to be taken to hospital in the back of fire engines.
Now, as part of a campaign called #team999, the public are invited to play the online game to give them a fresh insight into why some situations result in a blue light dash to hospital, while others may only require a doctor’s home visit.
NWAS chief executive Bob Williams said: “There is far more to the modern ambulance service than just emergency ambulances.
“It is all about getting the right care for each patient and keeping ambulances free for those with life-threatening conditons. Through this randomizer game we hope to raise awareness amongst younger people, in a humorous way, of what they can expect when calling on the ambulance service for help.”
The game is available on www.team999.nwas.nhs.uk