When it really is an emergency
There are times when you need urgent, emergency care, and those are the times to ring 999. Always call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at risk. So if you or a loved one is for example experiencing serious chest pain, difficulty in breathing or is unconscious, it’s important that they are seen as soon as possible by a medical professional. Other conditions which may require an ambulance include severe wounds, burns or scalds, if a person is choking, suffering from fits or concussion or is experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
East Midland Ambulance Service (EMAS) provides the emergency patient transport across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. They have 88 emergency vehicles, including the air ambulance and fast response vehicles, and they even have an additional team of paramedics on bicycles who are equipped to reach people in the centre of our cities and towns quickly.
It would be a mistake though to think that all they do is transport people to hospitals, they can actually achieve much more. When you call 999 your call is handled by an experienced operative who will take you through a list of questions which establish the severity of the condition of the patient, and categorises the response appropriately.
Emergency calls, where there is a critical emergency which is immediately life threatening and may or may not need the paramedic to attend with the defibrillator are categorised as “Red” calls, where the paramedic team will attempt to attend as soon as possible, with an annual target of getting to 75% of all red calls in 8 minutes with a first responder, and reaching them with a double crew ambulance in 19 minutes in 95% of all cases.
But what about the cases which aren’t life threatening? There are many cases which are serious, but not life threatening. Those cases will still send an ambulance but it’s possible that they won’t take you to accident and emergency. The paramedics are also able to treat a lot of conditions on the scene, without the need to take a patient to hospital. They might also think a patient could be better treated by an Urgent Care Centre, or refer them to other local community services.
There are some occasions when the call will be categorised as a non-emergency call. In these cases callers can be given telephone advice over the phone, and directed to a more suitable service such as NHS 111, a pharmacy or recommendations given for self care. It’s always important to think "is this call an emergency?" before you dial, and if you aren’t sure that it is, then call 111 instead.
You can find out more about EMAS and the work that they do on their website.