First aid tip: How to call an ambulance

Calling an ambulance is something most of us will have to do during our lifetime, whether it be for a friend, relative or stranger on the street. Often, the UK Ambulancesituation can be very stressful which makes even a simple phone call challenging. However, you can follow some of the tips below.

1) Know the correct number! Whilst you may know the number for your country, if you go abroad make sure you find out the correct number to contact the emergency services. In Europe, you can use 112 (the European Emergency Number) to contact the emergency services. SOS1 has a list of worldwide emergency numbers.

2) Know where you are. The ambulance service will need quite detailed information (ie, roadname and town) in order to pinpoint your exact location. This isn’t always easy, especially if you are in a remote or unfamiliar area. If you don’t know where you are, then try to describe your location (using landmarks, last junction etc.). Some motorways in the UK have driver location signs. If you are in a remote area then a grid reference may also be useful.

3) Give a concise description of what has happened (high speed road accident, car has hit a lamppost) including details of casualties (one casualty, unconscious but breathing) and any other relevant information such as dangers & hazards as these may require other emergency services to attend.

4) Speak slowly and clearly. Follow any instructions the calltaker gives you. Some may offer simple first aid advice over the phone.

5) Don’t hang up until asked to. In some cases the operator will stay on the line until the ambulance arrives.

6) Finally, before you call, make sure the situation warrants an emergency ambulance. Hoax and inappropriate calls can tie up valuable resources. Avon & Somerset police has published some of the most inappropriate calls they have received.

Remember, calls to the emergency services are normally free so you don’t require any credit. In addition, many mobile phones allow you to make an emergency phone call without a sim card or even when the keypad has been locked.

A Guardian has published several 999 call transcripts where you can listen to recordings of calls made to the emergency services.

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