It is very likely that at some point in your life, you will either witness, be involved in an accident or experience a medical emergency. A medical emergency is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. Knowing what to do next and who to call can potentially save lives.
NHS Choices website contains useful information on what to do in both medical/non-medical emergencies. Click HERE.
ALWAYS Call 999 in a medical emergency – when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Medical emergencies can include:
- loss of consciousness
- Heart attack or stroke (every second counts with these conditions so act FAST)
- fits that are not stopping
- Major trauma (often the result of a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury)
- severe confused state
- persistent, severe chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds
If it is not a life-threatening emergency and you or the person you are with does not need immediate medical attention, please consider other options before dialing 999:
- self care at home
- calling NHS 111
- talking to a pharmacist
- visiting or calling your GP
- going to a local NHS walk-in centre
- attending an urgent care centre or minor injuries unit
- making your own way to your local A&E department – arriving in an ambulance does not mean you will be seen any quicker
Choose the best service for your needs, as this will ensure the ambulance service is able to respond to the people who need help the most.
If it is a genuine emergency, where someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, call 999 and don't panic.
You can contact emergency services via SMS if you are deaf, hearing impaired or have a speech impediment. Visit the emergencySMS website for more information or to register your phone.
1. Answer the questions
Once you are connected to the call handler you'll have to answer a series of questions to establish what's wrong, such as:
- Where are you (including the area or postcode)?
- What is the phone number you are calling from?
- Exactly what has happened?
This will allow the operator to determine the most appropriate response as quickly as possible.
Dialling 999 does not necessarily mean an ambulance will be dispatched. The call handler will decide what is appropriate.
2. Don't hang up yet
Wait for a response from the ambulance control room, as they might have further questions for you, such as:
- What is the age, gender and medical history of the patient?
- Is the person awake or conscious and breathing?
The person who handles your call will let you know when they have all the information they need. You might also be instructed on how to give first aid until the ambulance arrives.
There are a number of things you can do to assist the ambulance service:
- If you are in the street, stay with the patient until help arrives.
- Call the ambulance service back if the patient's condition changes.
- Call the ambulance service back if your location changes.
- If you are calling from home or work, ask someone to open the doors and signal where the ambulance staff are needed.
- Lock away family pets.
- If you can, write down the patient's GP details and collect any medication they are taking.
- If you can, inform the paramedics about any allergies the patient has.
- Stay calm.
How to provide first aid
Here is a step by step guide that you can follow when providing first aid:
Before giving First Aid
- Check that you and the casualty are not in any danger. If you are, make the situation safe.
- Assess the casualty and dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance (if necessary).
You can now carry out basic First Aid:
- STAY CALM and try getting an overview of the situation.
- Treat the most life-threatening problems, such as lack of breathing, bleeding or shock, first. Check for broken bones and other injuries afterwards.
- If a person is unconscious but is breathing and has no other life-threatening conditions, they should be placed in the recovery position. More information is available HERE.
- If a person is not breathing normally after an accident, call for an ambulance and start CPR straight away if you can. More information can be found HERE.