A CARTOON dog called Woody is the star of a new animation developed by the Welsh Ambulance Service to help people decide whether their illness or injury warrants a 999 call.

The animation, which forms part of the #WoodyWise campaign, launched on Monday, February 4 to raise awareness of the role of the ambulance service and how to make sensible choices when looking for health advice.

Director of partnerships and engagement, Estelle Hitchon, said she hoped the animations would help engage and inform the public.

She said: “When someone feels unwell, particularly at the weekend or overnight, it can be difficult to know where to turn and phoning for an ambulance or turning up to an emergency unit can feel like the only options.

“In the same way, dealing with minor injuries and illnesses can tie up ambulance resources, taking them away from patients who genuinely need our help.

“The Woody animations take a number of scenarios with which we are all familiar and show why ringing for an ambulance sometimes is not right the choice, especially when it comes to a minor injury or illness.

“We receive many calls from people who could have used NHS Direct Wales, the 111 service, their local pharmacy or a minor injuries unit, but instead chose to call an ambulance. Dealing with this type of call prevents our staff from dealing with genuine emergencies.

“Calling an ambulance when you don’t need one wastes time and resources which could have been better spent responding someone genuinely in need of the high level clinical care ambulance crews provide. Ambulances are not a taxi service and arriving at hospital by ambulance does not mean you’ll be seen quicker."

She added: “If someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should call 999 immediately. For those minor illnesses and injuries which are less serious, we hope Woody the dog helps people realise that there are other, more appropriate, services available.”