PRANK calls from children are stretching the ambulance service to the limit and putting lives at risk.

Vital emergency resources have been sent to people's houses, only to find no one there when they arrive.

When crews have rang the caller back, they have been met with children laughing.

Now the South Western Ambulance Service has warned of the risks of such activities and urged parents to keep an eye on children and their mobile phones during the school holidays.

They have also released an audio of one such call, where a child pretends her friend has fallen down a hole and is not breathing.

The girl, whose voice sounds like a child of around eight-years-old, pretends she is 18 and said her friend is bleeding and has been cut by brambles.

The Trust has warned that all emergency calls are recorded and can be traced. It said offenders will be prosecuted if necessary.

Last year 774 hoax calls were made to the ambulance service which distracted paramedics from attending 91 real emergencies.

SWAST Chief Executive, Ken Wenman said: "Making hoax calls can put lives at risk. We strongly encourage parents to impress upon their children the importance of only dialing 999 in a genuine emergency situation.

"It is vital that people understand and appreciate the consequences associated with making hoax calls. We work with the police and other partners to seek the prosecution of people who abuse the 999 system."

Examples of when to call 999 include choking, chest pain, stroke, serious blood loss and unconsciousness. Using 999 correctly helps our paramedic crews to reach those patients most in need of medical attention.

Alternative healthcare options for less serious conditions include visiting your local pharmacy, visiting a minor injuries unit or NHS walk-in centre, or calling NHS111. You can also find information and advice online at