AN ambulance was sent on a 50-mile round trip – to pick up a drunk with “sore legs”.
The man was walking on the notoriously dangerous A9 when he made the 999 call and controllers say they had little choice but to help.
The Scottish Ambulance Service today (thu) revealed the shocking case as part of an appeal to festive season revellers not to use them as a taxi service.
Controllers say drunks sometimes take advantage of the emergency service by jumping out of ambulances when they stop at red lights near their homes.
Robert Pearson, a control room supervisor based in Edinburgh, said there had been a case in recent weeks involving a drunk walking home late at night on the A9 near Dalwhinnie.
An ambulance was sent from Kingussie, almost 20 miles north, and the man was then transported 30 miles to Aviemore to be checked over.
Mr Pearson said the young man was intoxicated when he made a 999 call complaining that his legs felt “sore from walking”.
“He was clearly under the influence and he had sore legs from walking so far and openly said to the paramedics ‘can you take me home’?”
The ambulance found the drunk between Dalwhinnie and the notorious Drumochter Pass and then ferried him to a clinic in Aviemore.
Explaining why they had little choice but to respond, he explained: “It can be very difficult. Someone might potentially have a serious head injury or unknown injury when they call.”
He added that the incident was far from unique. “I had one caller last weekend who came through to 999 and, when I asked what had happened, he said ‘I’m too drunk to get in a taxi and I need someone to take me home.’
“There has been cases where an ambulance has stopped at a red-light and the patient has realised they’re quite close to home so they just get out.”
“Other examples are if someone lives close to the hospital and when they arrive at A&E they say they don’t want to go in and just go home. ”
Paramedic veteran of 20 years, June Maxwell from Glasgow, urged revellers to make proper plans to get home.
She said: “The most common one though is young women who aren’t dressed appropriately for this time of year, they’ve lost their pals, don’t have any money left for a taxi and they’ve lost their phone.
“I have two teenage daughters so I feel quite protective. We can’t leave them there so we take them to the hospital and get someone to pick them up.
She said: “My advice to people would be; make a plan, make sure you have your phone, have money for the end of the night, dress appropriately – take a coat! – and most importantly know your limits.”
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Donald Cameron said: “Ambulance crews have no choice but to attend these call-outs.
“But those responsible for abusing the service in this way should be left in no doubt about the consequences of their behaviour.
“The service is under severe pressure, and does not have the time and resources to act as a taxi service.