Calling an ambulance (2023)

What is a medical emergency?

In a medical emergency, calling for an ambulance could mean the difference between life and death. However, people sometimes hesitate to call because they are not sure if the situation qualifies as an emergency.

If in doubt, always call triple zero (000). The call takers are trained to help and will direct you to the appropriate resources.

An immediate life-threatening emergency needing an ambulance may include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • severe bleeding
  • unconsciousness
  • lips and face turning blue
  • becoming agitated, confused or very drowsy
  • chest pain or chest tightness
  • sudden numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg
  • large burns
  • serious accidents or trauma
  • extreme pain.

How to call an ambulance

If you require urgent medical assistance for yourself or another person, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

  • Ask someone else to make the call if you are providing first aid to the injured person.
  • Call out for help if you are by yourself.
  • Briefly leave the sick or injured person to call for an ambulance if no one responds to your call for help.
  • Try not to panic. Talk slowly and clearly so the operator can understand you.

What to expect during a call to triple zero (000) – ambulance

When you call triple zero (000), you will be asked which service you require: police, fire or ambulance. Tell the call taker that you need an ambulance.

(Video) Call An Ambulance, But not fOr MeE

You will be transferred to an ambulance call taker and asked for information , including:

  • the location you need the ambulance to attend, including the address (if known)
  • additional location details that may assist, including street or road names, parks emergency marker details, or nearby landmarks
  • details of the situation and what has happened, including any scene safety concerns
  • how many people need medical assistance
  • the person’s age
  • if the person is conscious (awake)
  • if the person is breathing.

If you are calling from a mobile phone, you may also be asked which state or territory you are calling from. This is so the operator can transfer you to services where you are located. Smartphone users can download the Emergency+ app to assist call takers to pinpoint the exact location.

The call taker will organise assistance for you while you continue talking on the phone. Listen to the call taker and answer any questions – this will not delay the ambulance response. Follow the call taker’s instructions – this will help the patient and the ambulance paramedics.

Do not hang up until the call taker tells you to.

Emergency markers for difficult to find locations

Emergency markers are in locations with no set address (such as beaches, parks and trails) or places that are difficult to find. They are designed to pinpoint your exact location during an emergency.

Calling an ambulance (1)

(Video) Calling an Ambulance

Image courtesy of Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA)

Interpreters for calls to triple zero (000)

If you do not speak English or prefer to speak in your own language, you can ask the operator for an interpreter. There will be a short wait while they get an interpreter on the phone to speak to you.

It is useful to know some words in English, such as your address and phone number. Being able to use accurate words in English such as ‘unconscious’, ‘not breathing’ and ‘bleeding’ can help the operator arrange the appropriate help for you while waiting for the interpreter.

How to get help in an emergency is also available in other languages from the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) website.

Emergency number 112 for mobile phones

A secondary emergency number 112 can be called from mobile phones in Australia. It does not give you priority over triple zero (000) calls.

If you do not have mobile coverage, you will not be able to call from this number.

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It is also accepted as a secondary standard emergency number on mobile phones in some parts of the world. If you call 112 that has Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM) coverage, you will be connected to that country’s emergency service.

Do not call 911, it is an American and Canadian emergency number that will not work in Australia.

Calling triple zero (000) when you’re unable to speak

If it is not safe for you to speak on the phone or you are unable to speak, your call will be transferred to an Interactive Voice Response. This will ask you to dial 55 and you will be connected to the police.

Police will either try to call you back or may visit the address you are calling from to see if you need help. If you do not dial 55 when asked, the call will be disconnected. This system prevents accidental calls to triple zero (000).

Text emergency relay service – 106 for speech or hearing difficulties

If you have a speech or hearing impairment and use a telephone typewriter (TTY), computer or modem to make telephone calls, you can contact an ambulance on 106.

This puts you through to the text-based National Relay Emergency Call Service. The operator who answers your call will relay your typed information to the ambulance operator (or police or fire services).

You cannot use this number with SMS on your mobile phone.

(Video) Why Dan had to call an Ambulance

Getting assistance for non-urgent medical symptoms

Other services and alternative healthcare options are available for less urgent symptoms. These may include:

  • A general practitioner (GP) – some medical clinics are open on evenings and weekends. Ambulance paramedics cannot prescribe medication – your local doctor is the best person to do this.
  • An after-hours doctor who can visit your home.
  • NURSE-ON-CALL 1300 60 60 24 is a telephone helpline that provides expert, immediate health advice from a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Pharmacists – some are available after business hours and can provide general free advice on medicines and minor health conditions.
  • Supercare pharmacies are available in different locations throughout Victoria 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A free registered nursing service operates from 6 pm to 10 pm every day.

Learn basic first aid and CPR

If there is an emergency, knowing simple first aid can mean the difference between life and death. Consider taking a first aid course. People who have taken a course can use their first-aid knowledge to help in an emergency until medical help arrives.

First aid training courses are available across Australia. You can learn a variety of skills depending on the course you take including:

  • basic first aid
  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), including the use of a defibrillator
  • mental health first aid.

Courses range from a couple of hours to 2 days and can be taken online or in person, depending on the course. Times are also flexible.

Participants learn and usually receive a certificate. Follow up refresher courses are recommended every 3 years.

Many organisations hold regular courses (such as St John Ambulance or Australian Red Cross) – ask your doctor or health service for more information.

Ambulance costs

The cost of ambulance transport is not covered by Medicare.

(Video) Call The Ambulance

Ambulance transport and treatment by paramedics can be expensive (over $1200). The costs of ambulance may be covered by:

Where to get help


What do I say when calling an ambulance? ›

When you call 999, an operator will ask you which emergency service you need. In a medical emergency, ask for the ambulance service and you will be put through to one of our call-takers.

How long should an ambulance take to respond? ›

We aim to be with the patient within 15 minutes of the time specified by the GP.

How long does 999 take to answer? ›

Overall, 71% of 999 calls were answered within 10 seconds.

What should you not call for an ambulance? ›

Call 995 For Emergencies Only

You can make a difference between life and death by knowing what is an emergency. For life-threatening cases such as cardiac arrest, active seizures, breathlessness, major traumas and stroke, call 995.

Can ambulance track your phone? ›

Technology developed by BT, EE and HTC allows emergency services to see location of mobile calls with almost pin-point accuracy. Emergency calls made from mobile phones can now tracked to a radius of 30 metres or less, drastically cutting the time it takes to respond.

What is the most common reason an ambulance is called? ›

According to NEMSIS the most frequent conditions that EMS providers respond to (as determined by the EMS providers) are as follows: Injury / Illness. Frequency. 1. Traumatic injury.

What are the 5 phases of an ambulance call? ›

The six phases of an emergency call are preparation, dispatch, response to the scene, arrival at the scene, transferring care of the patient to other EMS personnel, and postrun activities.

How do you answer an emergency call? ›

Do your best to communicate honestly and sincerely, asking questions to verify your understanding of the situation. If the caller attempts to argue or intimidate, remember to stay calm and listen. It's also important to keep in mind that the caller was already upset before the call, so do not react personally.

Does calling an ambulance get you seen quicker? ›

Calling an ambulance does NOT get you seen faster in the emergency room. You will be triaged like other patients and seen in the order the emergency room can assist you based off the needs of other patients. FOR TRUE MEDICAL EMERGENCIES, please call 9-1-1.

Should you always wait for an ambulance? ›

Even if you're a trained first aider it is not advisable to shift the patient using a private vehicle. Every emergency ambulance has a paramedic who knows how to handle the patient. So always during an emergency, wait for the ambulance.

Is it faster to drive to the hospital or call an ambulance? ›

Ambulances Can Get To The Closest Emergency Room Faster.

If you drive, you'll have to obey the speed limit and stop at red lights, halt for pedestrians, and find a place to park once you arrive at the emergency room.

Do paramedics answer 999 calls? ›

London Ambulance Service answers more 999 and 111 calls than any other ambulance service in the UK. Crews go to more than 3000 emergencies a day and handle over two million 999 calls a year.

What happens if you cant talk on 999? ›

The Silent Solution is a police system used to filter out large numbers of accidental or hoax 999 calls. It also exists to help people who are unable to speak, but who genuinely need police assistance. You will hear an automated police message, which lasts for 20 seconds and begins with 'you are through to the police'.

Are calls to 999 recorded? ›

The police service does record all 999 calls. They are recorded so that they can be played back if clarification is needed and are sometimes used as evidence in court cases. No warning is given that the calls are recorded as this would obviously cause delay in an emergency situation.

How many ambulance calls are unnecessary? ›

The extent of inappropriate ambulance use ranges from 11.3% (Billittier et al. 1996) to 51.7% (Morris and Cross 1980) of calls; most estimates approximate 30%.

What is considered an emergency? ›

You need to go to an emergency room when you have: Chest pain. Trouble breathing. Severe bleeding or severe head injuries.

What should you do while waiting for an ambulance? ›

While you are waiting for the ambulance to arrive:

Loosen any restrictive clothing that could cause breathing difficulties. If weakness is obvious in any limb, support it and avoid pulling on it when moving the person. If they are unconscious, check their breathing and pulse and put them on their side.

How do Ambulances know where you are? ›

Do EMS drivers use GPS? In many areas, 911 dispatchers support ambulances with the help of Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD). This GPS-enabled technology allows dispatchers to know which of their fleet vehicles are closest to the caller and to assist in navigation while a vehicle is enroute.

What number to call if you cant talk? ›

Call 999 from a mobile

If you don't speak or answer questions, press 55 when prompted and your call will be transferred to the police. Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and doesn't allow the police to track your location.

What happens when you ring an ambulance? ›

When you dial 999, the first person you speak to is the Operator who will ask you which service you need. If you ask for an ambulance, you will be put through to your local ambulance service. An emergency call handler will then take the call and will ask you questions so that help can be arranged.

What to say to get seen faster in an emergency room? ›

As your friend did, you can always try to drop a big name, like say you're friends with the president of the hospital. In general, if they think you're a VIP (even if you're not), you'll definitely get seen more quickly. ...

Why do people chase ambulances? ›

Called “case runners,” ambulance chasers use aggressive tactics to get personal information about accident victims and steer them toward the highest paying attorneys and doctors. Accident victims are in the midst of a crisis and may make rushed decisions that aren't in their best interest.

Why does a fire truck come when you call an ambulance? ›

The primary reason a fire truck comes when you call 911 for an ambulance is to make sure you receive care as quickly as possible. The MFD has a goal of getting to every call for help in less than 5 minutes. We meet this goal about 78% of the time city-wide.

What does Code 5 mean in the hospital? ›

Rapid Response Team: Hospitals–only. patient with rapidly changing condition. Code Silver: Weapon/Hostage. Code 5: Shelter in Place.

What does Code 4 mean in the ER? ›

“Code 4” means everything is under control or the scene is safe. It indicates the officers are now in charge of the situation they were called to.

What are the four emergency moves? ›

Emergency Moves
  • Extremity Drag – Grasp and pull on the ankles and forearms.
  • Clothing Drag – Pull on a person's shirt in the neck and shoulder area.
  • Blanket Drag – Roll the person onto a blanket and drag the blanket.
26 Mar 2019

How do you answer a call properly? ›

Answering Calls
  1. Try to answer the phone within three rings. ...
  2. Answer with a friendly greeting. ...
  3. Smile - it shows, even through the phone lines; speak in a pleasant tone of voice - the caller will appreciate it.
  4. Ask the caller for their name, even if their name is not necessary for the call.
7 Jul 2020

What to say to answer a call? ›

A professional greeting like “Good morning” or “How may I help you?” helps get the conversation off on the right foot. Even if you have caller ID and think it's a work friend calling, someone could have borrowed their phone. Answering the phone with “Yeah, what?” might give callers the wrong impression of you.

What are 3 questions you should be prepared to answer when calling 911? ›

  • Person's problem or the type of incident (“Tell me exactly what happened?”).
  • Approximate age.
  • Is he or she conscious?
  • Is he or she breathing?
  • EXACTLY what the dispatcher asks you to do. Emergency service professionals are.

How quickly do ambulances come? ›

Our organisations works to achieve targets of: Category one: these will need to be responded to in an average time of seven minutes. Category two: these will need to be responded to in an average time of 18 minutes. Category three: these will be responded to at least nine out of 10 times within 120 minutes.

How much is an ambulance ride? ›

Bottom Line. The average cost of ambulance services is around $1200. Still, the final cost can depend on many factors, such as the severity of care provided, mileage, the number of ambulance staff treating you, and the type of supplies used.

Does an ambulance give you priority? ›

Urgent, life-threatening situations such as cardiac arrest and serious trauma are the highest priority for ambulance services. If the ambulance call taker assesses your situation as potentially life-threatening or urgent, they will get an ambulance to you as soon as possible.

Should I call an ambulance or not? ›

Call 999 immediately if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke. Every second counts with these conditions. Also call 999 if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as after a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.

Why do ambulances go so slow? ›

Bressler said ambulances travel more slowly through traffic when they have a patient on board for safety reasons, as well as the comfort of the patient. Bressler said there's a physiologic impact on the patient's condition when the vehicle has to stop suddenly.

How many calls do 999 get a day? ›

"Typically we receive over 1,000 calls a day to the 999 number and our operatives have to deal with each one accordingly."

How do you chase an ambulance? ›

Calling us
  1. Calling 999. ...
  2. NHS 111 is a free number to call when you have an urgent healthcare need that isn't a life-threatening situation. ...
  3. We have a range of staff and volunteers that will come and treat you, depending on the seriousness of the situation and how close we are to you.

Is ambulance free in UK? ›

In an emergency

In a medical emergency, call 999 and ask for an ambulance. You will not have to pay to be taken to hospital in an emergency. A medical emergency is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. Read about when to call 999.

What is silent solution? ›

The Silent Solution is a police system used to filter out large numbers of accidental or hoax 999 calls. It also exists to help people who are unable to speak, but who genuinely need police assistance. You will hear an automated police message, which lasts for 20 seconds and begins with 'you are through to the police'.

Can deaf people text 999? ›

Deaf people can text emergency services, but only if our phones are registered for the service in advance. Don't wait until you need to call, it will be too late. Do it now.

What happens if you call 000 and say nothing? ›

Anyone calling 000 who does not speak when the operator asks the initial question: “Emergency. Police? Fire? Ambulance?” is directed to an interactive voice response (IVR) unit.

How long is the average 999 call? ›

Respond to Category 1 calls in 7 minutes on average and respond to 90% of Category 1 calls in 15 minutes. Respond to Category 2 calls in 18 minutes on average and respond to 90% of Category 2 calls in 40 minutes. Respond to 90% of Category 3 calls in 120 minutes. Respond to 90% of Category 4 calls in 180 minutes.

How long are ambulance records kept for? ›

We retain medical records for 25 years and clinical details of 999 and 111 calls made by adults for 10 years.

How long are 999 calls kept? ›

The MPS upgraded to a new recording system in October 2019, all 999 and 101 phone calls are kept for seven years.

What do you say in an emergency call? ›

When you call 911, a call-taker will answer the phone and say "911" or "911, what's your emergency?". Ideally, you should tell the call-taker what the emergency is, for example: "My house is on fire!" "There's someone breaking into my home!"

What to say when you have to call 911? ›

When you call 911, be prepared to answer the call-taker's questions, which may include: The location of the emergency, including the street address, and room/apartment number, if you're in a large building. The phone number you are calling from. The nature of the emergency.

What are the three words for emergency services? ›

Please note, what3words is accepted by over 80% of UK emergency services. While it is used by some services in other countries, use is not yet widespread outside of the UK. In an emergency, you should call 999 and give the call handler the what3words address for where help is needed.

How do you response in an emergency? ›

Date: February 1st, 2020
  1. Steps to Deal With Emergency Situations. ...
  2. Remain Calm. ...
  3. Move to a Safe Location. ...
  4. Provide First Aid. ...
  5. Ask for Help. ...
  6. Communicate with the Victims. ...
  7. Convey Accurate Information. ...
  8. Document Your Progress.
1 Feb 2020

Is it possible for 911 to not answer? ›

Our telephone system is designed to put you into a queue if we are unable to answer the phone at around 45 seconds. You will hear a message if this happens. Hold on the line and wait for the call taker to pick up.

How can I talk to 911 without talking? ›

Call 911, wait for an answer, then use your telephone's keypad to "talk" to the dispatcher. Press 1 if you need police, 2 for fire and 3 for an ambulance. If the dispatcher asks you questions, 4 means "yes" and 5 means "no."

Does 911 answer immediately? ›

Once the Telecommunicator has analyzed the situation, the call is immediately routed by computer to a dispatcher for the appropriate emergency response (Police, Fire or EMS) to provide the service(s) needed.

What are the 4 basic responses to emergencies? ›

Emergency managers think of disasters as recurring events with four phases: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. The following diagram illustrates the relationship of the four phases of emergency management.

What are the five 5 usual common emergencies? ›

7 Most Common Medical Emergencies
  • Bleeding. Cuts and wounds cause bleeding, but severe injury can also cause internal bleeding that you can't see. ...
  • Breathing difficulties. ...
  • Someone collapses. ...
  • Fit and/or epileptic seizure. ...
  • Severe pain. ...
  • Heart attack. ...
  • A stroke.

What are 4 types of emergencies? ›

Types of Emergencies
  • Severe Weather (Tornadoes, Thunderstorms, Hail) ...
  • Fire. ...
  • Hazardous Materials Accidents. ...
  • Chemical/Biological/Radiological (CBR) Emergencies. ...
  • Aircraft Crashes. ...
  • National Emergency (War, Terrorism) ...
  • Civil Disorder. ...
  • Active Shooter.

What does SOS only mean? ›

If you see SOS or SOS only

If you see SOS or "SOS only" in the status bar, your device isn't connected to a network, but you can still make emergency calls. This feature is available in Australia, Canada, and the United States.

What happens if you accidentally call emergency? ›

The police will track down anyone who calls 112 for reasons other than those for which it was intended. In cases of abuse the police can request data from the emergency call centre to trace the identity of the caller.

Can you put a friend as an emergency contact? ›

In most cases, emergency contacts are a loved one such as a parent, spouse, adult child, or trusted friend. If possible, it's best to have at least TWO emergency contacts.


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