It was the emergency callout every paramedic dreads – a child in danger.
As they raced to a house where a five-year-old had gone into cardiac arrest, they feared for the worst ... until they arrived to discover the youngster was actually a cat.
A fast-response car and an ambulance were scrambled at 6.45am after a desperate couple dialled 999 and pleaded with the emergency operator to revive their ‘five-year-old’.
But when the teams arrived at the home in Ware, Hertfordshire, they found a tearful couple clutching their five year-old pet, which later died.
An ambulance spokesman said the call could have meant the difference between life and death for a genuine patient.
One paramedic said: ‘The 999 situation that raises the adrenaline the most is probably being called to a seriously ill child. It’s human nature.
‘Fast-response cars and ambulances will be driven at the maximum speed for safety to the scene and paramedics will be mentally prepared to offer their immediate professional assistance. You’d certainly be pumped up by it. The paramedics were probably relieved it wasn’t a child to start with and then they were absolutely gobsmacked.’
‘It was a surreal situation. I’ve gone to some silly calls, but nothing like this. I can’t understand why they didn’t try to call a vet. Some people think 999 covers everything.
The bizarre 999 call was received by East of England Ambulance Service on August 10 from a foreign couple.
The paramedic said they had been in the country a short time only and may have been confused, adding: ‘We get a lot of callers with language barriers.
‘We have a translation line we can use but you haven’t got time to do that in a potentially critical situation.’
A spokesman for the service said: ‘We would remind people that 999 is a lifeline.’