Paramedics took more than 30 minutes to respond to life-threatening incidents in the north-east last year, it can be revealed.
The statistics show the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) arrived at the scenes of emergencies within four minutes and five seconds in some situations and took half an hour in others.
Politicians said today that people behind hoax 999 calls are making things worse and called on them to face the full force of the law.
Ambulance chiefs say they are training more paramedics and buying more vehicles to improve response times.
According to targets, paramedics should show up within eight minutes of every 999 call in which there is an immediate threat to life.
However, the statistics, released following a freedom of information request, show the median response time was more than eight minutes in 19 of the 40 areas in Grampian in 2018.
The average response time across the entire area was six minutes and 50 seconds – meeting the target.
The median waiting time in Elgin South – near an ambulance station – was four minutes and five seconds – while the median waiting time in Turriff and District was 18 minutes and 33 seconds.
Other problem areas were Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside (15 minutes) and Mearns (15 minutes).
In the worst cases, crews took more than 30 minutes to reach patients in those areas.
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
Meanwhile, separate figures show troublemakers made 65 hoax calls to the service in 2018 in the north division, which covers the north-east and Highlands.
North-east Conservative MSP Peter Chapman said: “These figures highlight once again the poor level of cover experienced by parts of the north-east.
“Our first responders do a terrific job, but the response time can often depend on the proximity of the nearest ambulance station.
“Towns like Turriff, for example, suffer some of the worst times (as they are served by) stations at Inverurie, Aberdeen and Peterhead – none of which are within the target time of eight minutes.
“In life-threatening emergency situations, every second can count.
“For most people, ambulances are at the scene in less than eight minutes, but that extra time could be the difference between life and death.
“That’s what makes the level of hoax calls all the more galling. It is no exaggeration to say that lives are on the line.
“Those who are guilty of making these calls should face the full force of the law.”
A SAS spokesman said: “We prioritise the sickest, most seriously-ill patients, and as a result of this approach, we have almost doubled survival rates for cardiac arrest patients since 2013.
“For less ill patients, our call handlers may spend a little more time with the patient to better understand their condition and ensure we get the right, not necessarily the nearest or quickest, response to the patient first time.
“In remote areas of Scotland, we have a range of resources we can deploy, depending on the nature of the incident.
“These range from the rapid deployment of our network of Community First Responders, to air support, ambulance crews, paramedic response units or other emergency services if they are nearby.
“We are currently training an additional 1,000 paramedics across Scotland who will further increase our capacity, while our £78 million investment programme is introducing 1,000 new vehicles between 2016 and 2020.”