Jonathan Pow/

The North West Ambulance Service has turned to Grimms age-old fairy tales in a bid to educate children on when they should call 999.

Stories such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel have been given a modern twist in a new book, written by Mathew Owen and illustrated by Emmeline Pidgen, which will be available to primary school children across the region.

The concept comes after the North West Ambulance Service revealed it received more than one million 999 calls in 2019, however over a third of these were for non-emergency situations, with callers ringing for incidents such as slips and falls, stomach pains and back ache. In some extremely unusual circumstances, people even called about stubbed toes, hiccups and being unable to reach the toilet roll.

The service is now trying to educate young children on which scenarios are considered to be an emergency in a bid to reduce the number of non-emergency callers and help people understand where else they can get help.

The book sees classic characters such as Snow White in scenarios that require emergency attention, whereas characters such as Sleeping Beauty deals with the prince having a seizure by dialling 111.

Talking about the book, Ged Blezard, Director of Operations at NWAS, said: “Calls to the ambulance service increase year on year, however of the 1.3 million calls made last year, only 10 per cent were actually for immediately life threatening incidents.

“There is clearly a need to educate the public on what constitutes an emergency situation, and what better way to connect with children than to turn the old fairy tales we all know and love into stories we can all learn from?

“The book is filled with beautiful pictures and engaging stories which will hopefully stay with children throughout their lives and help them make the right decisions in future.

“By educating children early on, we hope to provide them with the knowledge they need to act responsibly and with due care should they ever find themselves in an emergency.”

Typical examples of a life threatening emergencies include a cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, a confused state, fits that aren’t stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, severe allergic reactions, burns and scalds, suspected stroke, suspected heart attack, fall from height, serious head injury, stabbing, shooting, serious road traffic incident.

The stories in the book mirror a selection of these incidents – for example, Snow White takes a bite of her apple and falls unconscious due to an allergic reaction. Sniffley returns home from work with a cold, and after seeing Snow White unconscious realises that he does need to call 999 in this instance, as she is very ill.

Paramedics are due to visit primary schools to talk about the initiative, while lesson plans are available for teachers in the Manchester area who wish to introduce their pupils to the scheme.

For medical help when it is not an emergency, go to or call NHS 111.

To download the full book and lesson plans, please visit:


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