MERCY crews are being swamped by timewasters.
Now West Yorkshire's ambulance chiefs are saying: Don't ring 999 unless you have to.
Their plea came as a regional poster campaign is launched to stop misuse of the emergency system.
Ambulance chiefs said they received dozens of inappropriate calls a day, including those from people with sore throats and stubbed toes.
West Yorkshire ambulance operations director Bob Williams said: "Research has shown that every year up to one in four 999 calls to the service do not need an emergency response.
"We are not talking about hoax calls but people demanding an ambulance for all sorts of reasons including toothache and other minor ailments.
"Many are under the misunderstanding that if they arrive at casualty in an ambulance they'll jump the queue.
"The point is that while we're dealing with calls of this nature we're not available to get to the life-threatening emergencies, putting the lives of other patients at risk."
Eight ambulance services in the north of England are linking for the campaign.
It is hoped that nightclubs, pubs, clubs, universities and community and leisure centres will help display the run of 1,500 posters.
Last year frontline ambulance crews from the eight services taking part in the campaign responded to more than a million 999 calls.
It is estimated that more than 250,000 unnecessary journeys were made.